UFC 219 wraps up 2017 in MMA and our half-year of picks at Cageside Press.
|Staff Writers||Condit vs. Magny||Calvillo vs. Esparza||Diakiese vs. Hooker||Nurmagomedov vs. Barboza||Cyborg vs. Holm|
|Heath Harshman (99-52)|
|Dan Doherty (93-63)|
|Harry Davies (82-59)|
|Mike McClory (71-54)|
|Paarth Pande (78-66)|
|Jay Anderson (83-73)|
|Gabriel Gonzalez (41-39)|
|Eddie Law (75-75)|
UFC 219 is headlined by a featherweight title fight between champion Cris Cyborg and former bantamweight titleholder Holly Holm. Perhaps the next lightweight top contender will be determined in the co-main event of Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov. Lastly, Carlos Condit makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon to kick off the main card.
The headlining bout pits Cris Cyborg against her toughest UFC opponent to date, Holly Holm. Holm bounced back from back to back losses with a beautiful head kick knockout of Bethe Correia last summer. Cris Cyborg has done well in the UFC, defeating Lina Lansberg, Leslie Smith, and Tonya Evinger decisively. Cageside Press is split when it comes to the headlining bout.
Khabib Nurmagomedov finally returns to the Octagon after making a huge statement way back at UFC 205 when he dominated Michael Johnson. Edson Barboza is on a three-fight win streak and opened eyes with a beautiful flying knee knockout of Beneil Dariush in his last appearance. All but one writer sided with the undefeated Russian.
Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker was a late addition to the UFC 219 main card following John Lineker’s withdrawal. Hooker recently moved back up to lightweight and looked excellent in his knockout victory over Ross Pearson. Marc Diakiese’s undefeated record received its first blemish in his last bout, losing to Drakkar Klose in an exciting split decision. Cageside Press gives a slight edge to Diakiese, with five of eight writers picking him.
Strawweight upstart Cynthia Calvillo looks to continue her improbable rise to the top when she takes on former champion Carla Esparza. Calvillo is just 6-0 in her MMA career, but half of those fights are with the UFC. She impressively bested Joanne Calderwood in her last appearance. Esparza has fought very infrequently since winning the title in 2014. She’s 2-2 since then and is coming off a win over Maryna Moroz. This year was the first time she’s had multiple fights in a calendar year since 2012. Cageside Press favors the red-hot Cynthia Calvillo in this one by a five-to-three margin.
Opening up the UFC 219 main card is the return of former interim champion Carlos Condit. With just two wins in his last seven fights and heavy flirtation with retirement, Condit’s career is not exactly on the upswing. Condit lost both his fights in 2016, one being a very controversial split decision title loss to Robbie Lawler, the other being a quick submission to Demian Maia. He’ll take on Neil Magny, who’s also seen better days. Magny is 1-2 in his last three with the one win by decision after spending the majority of the 15 minutes on his back. All but one writer favors Carlos Condit in his Octagon return.