The last event of the year UFC 219 was all about Cyborg and Holm – the two current giants of Women’s MMA. The endless debates and predictions of will she or won’t she. Finally, judgement day had arrived and both of these female fighters were keen to finish 2017 with a bang. The Americans clearly desired an upset by Holm, though none would admit that their choice was perhaps influenced by national pride. Anyone who had seen Cyborg fight, without the influence of any coloured tinted glass would certainly find it difficult to bet against her.
Main Card Female Fight I: Calvillo vs Esparza
Cynthia Calvillo and former Strawweight champion Carla Esparza gave an excellent performance to whet the appetite for women MMA fans. Calvillo came in aggressive and dominated Esparza for the better part of the first round. The dominance was reversed in favour of Esparza in the second and third round with several take downs attempts and a good range of attack strategies. The fight went into decision and Carla Esparza won by unanimous decision. Some reacted negatively to the decision, calling it a bad call by the judge. For me, a solid women’s fight is always a win for WMMA.
Main Event Cris Cyborg vs Holly Holm
And so the fight is finally here, after years of discussion and months of hype, I was practically salivating with excitement. The consensus I felt from social media, at least in the English speaking world, everyone wanted Holm to win but believe Cyborg was the stronger athlete.
While I was disappointed the fight had to go to decision, the fight was nail biting for me. Both women were simply excellent fighters. Holly Holm, confronted with a formidable opponent not only took Cyborg to the 5th round, she was the first person in over 9 years to push a fight with Cyborg to a decision.
Cyborg was calm, composed and showed no signs of fatigue in the entire match. As a strong and confident fighter, the overall favourite, she never let her guard down and never showed any signs of frustrations or annoyance for not being able to take Holm down with a knock out.
In the end, the fight created an enormous amount of excitement, chatter and debate for women MMA in the last weekend of a year that had been fruitful for women in combat sport. I am happy Cyborg won, not simply because she is an incredibly skilled athlete, but because she had risen above all critiques and mockery of her and defeated one hellavu fighter with such composure.