Cris Cyborg has produced a technical masterclass to defeat Holly Holm and retain the UFC women's featherweight championship at UFC 219 in Las Vegas.
The victory was Cyborg's ninth in a row across all promotions, while Holm has now won just one fight since her upset victory over Ronda Rousey in 2015.
Cyborg was immediately called out by Australian fighter Megan Anderson:
Anderson, Invicta's featherweight champion, was due to make her UFC debut against Cyborg in July before pulling out of the UFC 214 event.
Cyborg revealed immediately after the fight that she's ready to take on Anderson -- potentially as soon as February at UFC 221 in Perth:
Judges had it 48-47 twice and 49-46 for the champion.
Cyborg had never gone longer than 4:10 of the fourth round, but she was firing hard shots and chasing Holm down in the fifth as if she went 25 hard minutes all the time.
A three-weight boxing champion who had won the UFC women’s bantamweight title with a 2015 knockout of Ronda Rousey, Holm circled and made Cyborg use every bit of her skills.
Oddly, Holm moved to her left, and into Cyborg's power hand, for much of the night. That allowed Cyborg to fire straight rights, but she varied her game and not only punched in combination, but came back with knees and kicks.
Holm, who has won seven of her 11 MMA fights with kicks, kept firing that familiar kick to the head that shocked so many 25 months ago when she ended the Rousey legend with it in Australia.
Cyborg was schooled well and blocked it nearly every time. The high kicks that Holm landed were never fully flush and didn’t have the power behind them that she can bring.
Both fighters were marked up and Justino’s nose was bleeding early from a crunching straight left by Holm. But Cyborg never panicked nor got out of her game plan.
She kept stalking forward, looking for a big shot, but when the opening wasn’t there, she raked Holm with hard combinations.
Holm’s left eye was a mess and she could barely see out of it by the third round. When the fight ended and ring announcer Bruce Buffer called Cyborg the winner, Holm threw her head back and looked skyward.
She knew she’d done about all she could do – other than moving toward Cyborg's power, it was hard to find fault with anything she did – but it wasn’t enough.
Hopefully, the UFC can make a concerted effort to fill the division with the best featherweights so we can see how good Justino truly is. She’s dominated in the past with her sheer size, as she often walks around at 155.
On a night though when her size alone wasn’t enough, Justino showed she had the full package and proved herself an elite champion.
with Kevin Iole, Yahoo US