The last time Cris Cyborg tasted defeat in MMA was 2005, her first professional fight. Since then, she’s torn apart her competition in humiliating fashion, going to the judges only twice in her last 18 fights. And that’s back when women’s MMA had three, three-minute rounds. At UFC 219, she saw the best competition of her career in boxing and kickboxing champion Holly Holm. The Ronda Rousey killer herself.
Both ladies traded shots early, with Holm tripping Cyborg early and pressing her up against the cage, trying to wear her out but doing no damage. Seeing them squared up, it showed that this was one of the few times Cyborg had an opponent her size. Holm was able to keep Cyborg on the outside and throwing leg kicks, hitting her stiff with some lead jabs and hooks. As the clock wound down, Cyborg would stalk Holly, who didn’t respect Cyborg at all, but Cyborg returned the disrespect, smiling after every punch. Every time Cyborg landed, it was with devastating power.
As we enter round two, Cyborg’s bleeding, Holm is swollen and her nose looks busted. The crowd is chanting “Holly!” as she circles around Cyborg, who continues to take chunks out of her health bar. Holly’s able to take every tie-up and takedown attempt and spin it into pushing Cyborg’s back against the cage, but she’s taking constant damage. Every punch Cyborg throws is horrifying. Still, Holm is working a brilliant strategy, moving in and out and causing Cyborg to spend a ton of energy and not finish combos.
Holly’s face looks like it’s been through 20 rounds with Floyd Mayweather as we head into the third round. Both ladies look fresh, bouncing on their toes, but Holm is catching way more shots as she does work. As the third round ends, Cyborg lumbers forward and rocks Holm.
Cyborg is landing some brutal knees to the body almost every time Cyborg gets close as round four is more Cyborg stalking and Holm footwork. Holly has some flashes of brilliance, but if the plan was to bring Cyborg into deep waters for the finish, it’s not working. Cyborg is hitting hard. All the time.
Holly lets it go in the fifth round and Cyborg is happy to oblige, with both women landing stinging combos. Holm gets blown up multiple times, but continues to push forward with an admirable ferocity. Holly is landing, but the shots are mostly inconsequential until she lands a beautiful combo as time expires.
Holly Holm lost to Cris Cyborg, as all ladies do, but she was the first to bring her to a five-round decision and had her moments. Cyborg’s just the GOAT.