To conclude every year around New Year’s Eve, the UFC tries to stage one of its biggest events both to put a bow on the year that just passed and build momentum for the upcoming year. UFC 219 closes 2017 from Las Vegas on Saturday and it’s headlined by a women’s Featherweight Championship bout between Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Holly Holm.
Here’s a look at the main card, along with the latest UFC odds. It will be shown on pay-per-view with the four-fight main card set to start at 10 p.m. ET. AS of now, it’s only a four-fight card as Brazilian John Lineker has pulled out of his slated fight rising bantamweight contender Jimmie Rivera because of a tooth infection.
UFC 219 Main Card Betting Preview & Picks
Cris “Cyborg” Justino (18-1) vs. Holly Holm (11-3)
UFC 219 Odds: Justino is a -370 favorite with Holm at +295 and the over/under at 1.5 rounds.
Cyborg is the UFC featherweight champion and a former Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion and Invicta FC Featherweight Champion. The Brazilian is largely regarded as the pound-for-pound female MMA fighter on the planet. Justino is one of the most dominant female fighters of all time. Sixteen of her 18 career wins have come via knockout, including nine inside the first round. She debuted with the UFC in May 2016. She claimed the UFC’s featherweight championship in July, knocking out Tonya Evinger in the third round at UFC 214.
Holm is a former UFC bantamweight champion – she changed the women’s division forever a few years ago with an epic upset of former pound-for-pound champion Ronda Rousey, who is now retired from MMA. Holm is coming off a third-round knockout over Bethe Correia in June, which ended a three-fight losing streak for Holm. This will be Holm’s second UFC featherweight title fight. She fought Germaine de Randamie for the inaugural title at UFC 208 in February but lost that bout via decision.
Few fighters can match up physically with Cyborg. Holm, however, is one of them. Both fighters are 5-foot-8 and Holm actually holds a 1-inch reach advantage. Holm, a former boxing champion, isn’t going to sit in the clinch and trade punches with Cyborg. She won’t attempt to bring the fight to the ground as that’s asking for a quick loss.
Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0) vs. Edson Barboza (19-4)
UFC 219 Odds: Khabib is -280 and Edson +230 with the total at 2.5 rounds.
It’s a matchup between lightweight contenders, with Nurmagomedov ranked No. 1 in the division and Barboza No. 4. The champion is Conor McGregor, and it’s not clear if he’ll ever fight for the UFC again after his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather and the fact McGregor wants an ownership stake in the UFC. That’s not happening. The current interim champion is Tony Ferguson, so the winner here should face him.
This will be Nurmagomedov’s first appearance of 2017. The Russian lightweight was scheduled to face Ferguson for the UFC’s interim title in March, but was forced to pull out the day before after he was hospitalized during his weight cut. Nurmagomedov was also sidelined by back surgery this year. Barboza is looking to build off a three-fight win streak. He is coming off a win against Beneil Dariush where he won by a vicious flying knee knockout that you should Google. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Barboza missed time this summer due to shoulder surgery.
Cynthia Calvillo (6-0) vs. Carla Esparza (13-4)
UFC 219 Odds: Calvillo is -250 and Esparza +210 with a total of 2.5 rounds.
This is a women’s strawweight bout with Calvillo ranked sixth in the division and Esparza ninth. Calvillo has emerged as one of the best, must-see rising stars in the UFC since her promotional debut earlier this year. Calvillo kicked off the year by finishing Amanda Cooper and Pearl Gonzalez, before scoring a decision win over Joanne Calderwood.
The 30-year-old Esparza, who has won two of her past three since losing the 115-pound belt at UFC 185, looks to climb back into title contention against the undefeated submission artist. Esparza defeated Maryna Moroz at UFC Fight Night Oklahoma City in June to get back on the winning track after a loss to Randa Markos at Fight Night Halifax earlier in the year.
The winner will emerge as a title contender for 2018.
Carlos Condit (30-10) vs. Neil Magny (19-7)
UFC 219 Odds: Condit is -165 for this welterweight bout and Magny at +140 with the total at 2.5 rounds.
Condit, a former top contender in the division, hasn’t fought since a first-round submission loss to Demian Maia in August 2016. Condit had discussed retirement following the defeat but changed his mind. “The Natural Born Killer” will make his return this Saturday in a must-win bout or else his career is probably over. Opposite Magny, Condit definitely wants to keep this thing standing as Condit has won all but two of his victories via stoppage.
Magny is coming off a submission loss to Rafael dos Anjos in September. He is 1-2 in his past three fights. Magny has a solid combination of conditioning, strong clinch wrestling and rangy kickboxing. The best aspect of Magny’s game is undoubtedly his wrestling, which includes strong double leg takedowns and a tight body lock. So he’ll want to get this fight on the ground.
Expert Predictions & UFC 219 Picks
I see no reason not to back all the favorites in what is honestly an underwhelming card.