We’re back, and this time we’re here to stay. Kicking off 2018 right with our review of the last UFC event of 2019. I have to be honest, going into the event the card looked a little light, especially when you compare it to UFC 218 or the monster card that was UFC 218. This is kind of surprising as in the past few years, the UFC has tried to have their last show of the year be a huge event to get people amped up for the coming year. 5 fights on the main card, with the women getting 2 fights. Enough talking lets jump into it.
#8 Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit (30-10) vs. #12 Neil Magney (19-7)
Welterweight action as Condit made his return to the octagon for the first time in 16 months, while Magney was coming off a loss to Rafael dos Anjos back in September. “Nothing Magney hits you with is overwhelming, but it never stops” – Joe Rogan. That pretty much sums up this fight. Condit just couldn’t get anything going, he was taken down multiple times and didn’t finally “turn it on” until the last 2 minutes of the third round. Magney wins via unanimous decision and gets back on the right track.
#6 Cynthia Calvillo (6-0) vs. #9 Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza (13-4)
Women’s strawweight match up pitting a former champion in Esparza against the undefeated Calvillo with both ladies looking to make some waves and get their shot at “Thug Rose”. A dominant first round for Calvillo, but not as dominant as the control time would lead you to believe. She was behind on both ground strikes and strikes at distance according to the UFC’s stat tracker when the match was done. For her part, Esparza stayed composed, she scored a couple of takedowns in round two and one in round three and she just kept throwing (and landing) punches and kicks. I can understand why Calvillo was upset with the decision on this as she thought her performance in round 1 was enough to win the fight, but “Cookie Monster” hung in and picked up a much deserved win, handing Calvillo her first professional loss in the process.
Dan “The Hangman” Hooker (15-7) vs. Marc “Bonecrusher” Diakiese (12-1)
I’ll be honest, despite their impressive records, both of these lightweight fighters were “unknowns” to me. “Speed Kills” and from the onset of the fight all three of the commentators talked about Diakiese’s speed and how it’s both an asset and a potential detriment. The first two round were nothing to speak of (in my opinion). Round one was spent feeling each other out and round two was similar with Hooker getting a takedown and making nothing of it. Diakiese came out fast in round three throwing a lot of kicks and punches, but when he over extended it cost him big. Hooker locked in a guillotine choke and ended it quick. Okay fight, let’s see where these two go from here.
#2 Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov (24-0) vs. #4 Edson “Junior” Barboza (19-4)
This fight was like a bear mauling a wolf. Barboza is considered one of the best strikers in the lightweight division, his kicks are the stuff of legend, all he could muster in this fight were a few inside leg kicks that Khabib shook off as he marched on him. Khabib had over 10 minutes of on the ground control in a 15 minute fight and led on both outside and ground strikes. Hats off to Barboza for making it to the final bell and making the judges go through the motions of filling out a score card, but come on. With this performance, Khabib deserves a title shot be it against Ferguson or McGregor and I can’t wait to see him step in to the cage with either of those two.
(C) Cris Cyborg (18-1) vs. #2 Holy “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (11-3)
The talk going into this fight was all about who would walk away with the win and be able to be called the “Greatest of All Time”. I’m not sure if we can answer that however. Cyborg wins via unanimous decision (you’ll hear no argument from me), but it’s just that, she won by decision. This is the first time she hasn’t finished an opponent in 9 years and Holm is the only person to go 5 rounds with her. Cyborg is just so powerful, I don’t personally think there’s a woman in the featherweight division (I don’t care what league) that can match her at the moment. This is a problem as the UFC has a hard enough time filling the featherweight division as it is. Could she fight de Randamie (the former champ), does she drop weight or Amanda Nunes put on weight to make that fight happen? 2018 looks like it could be really interesting for Cyborg. As for Holm, this was her second shot at the title and once again she came up short. Like I mentioned, you have to tip you cap to her. She did something no other woman has ever been able to do, by going the distance, but it was painful to watch at times. Does she drop back down to bantamweight or maybe just take some time off now and see how things shake out? We’ll have to wait and see.
That’s it for this recap. We’ll be back covering more UFC, Bellator and other MMA news as the year rolls on. Happy 2018 and we’ll see you next time.
Image from MMAfighting.com