Lean Cyborg-Holm UFC 219 Headliner to End Quickly

cyborg holm

Andreas Hale

Thursday, December 28, 2017 2:41 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017 2:41 PM UTC

The UFC’s annual year-end event is upon us and features arguably the most dominant woman in mixed martial arts as Cris Cyborg takes on Holly Holm in the main event of UFC 219 in Las Vegas on Saturday. 

Free UFC Pick: Cyborg-Holm Under 1.5 RoundsBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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UFC 219 wraps up for 2017 on Saturday night from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as Cris Cyborg defends her UFC women’s featherweight title against former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm. That fight headlines a solid main card which has a co-main event that finds the unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov taking on Edson Barboza.

But let’s discuss the betting value.

It’s worth noting that both the main and co-main events have similar betting lines with huge favorites. Although there are reasons to believe that both Cyborg and Nurmagomedov should come out victorious, they aren’t unbeatable by any stretch of the imagination.

The main event finds Cyborg finally taking on an opponent with some merit. It’s no fault of the champion as nobody seems to be interested in facing a woman who hasn’t gone to a decision in 9 years. Cyborg has been a force of destruction for over a decade and hasn’t lost since her pro debut in 2005. Since then she has wrecked everything in her path, and it hasn’t been remotely close. As for Holm, she got herself back on track with a knockout of Bethe Correia after suffering three consecutive losses. Holm enters as a +330 underdog to Cyborg’s -370, but Holm’s striking coach says that the former boxing champion will shock the world again, like she did with her demolition of Ronda Rousey. But Cyborg is certainly a different type of fighter than the striking deficient judoka that she ran over two years ago.

Holm is a counter-striker by nature who looks for her opponent to make mistakes. The problem with her approach is that it leads to little activity from Holm if her opponent isn’t advancing. Losses to Germaine de Randamie and Valentina Shevchenko came as a result of Holm being outworked.

She won’t have that problem with Cyborg.

Cyborg’s approach to this fight will immediately put Holm into the fire and see if she’s able to withstand the storm. Given Cyborg’s size, strength and credentials as a kickboxer, it’s very difficult to see a way that Holm wins unless she can capitalize on a Cyborg mistake with a well-placed counter. But it’s a different world when you counter Ronda Rousey vs. a gifted striker with a severely underrated ground game.

Unless you want to roll the dice Holm, betting on either fighter isn’t advised. However, the +225 line for the fight ending in 'under' 1.5 rounds should raise some eyebrows.

With the exception of the too-tough-for-her-own-good Tonya Evinger, Cyborg has ended her last five opponents in under 7 1/2 minutes. Holm is a decorated striker and Cyborg could play it cautious, but if she smells any hesitation the Brazilian is going to go for blood quickly. On the other end, that could cause Cyborg to surprisingly run into something that could result in a huge upset. Either way, the +225 for the fight ending in 1.5 rounds may be worth your time. I wouldn’t say that it’s a lock because of Holm’s ability, but it is definitely a heavy lean.

The co-main event with Nurmagomedov and Barboza also has some value if you dig beneath the surface of the classic striker vs. grappler matchup. Nurmagomedov enters as a -280 favorite while Barboza finds himself as a hefty underdog at +235. As we have seen in the past, once Nurmagomedov gets his hands on his opponent, it’s essentially over. However, there have been times where the undefeated Russian has shown holes in his striking. This is certainly an area where Barboza excels and could capitalize if given the opportunity. It’s also important to point out that Nurmagomedov’s injury history and struggles with weight could play a major role in this fight. He’s only fought twice in the past 3.5 years and against decent, but not world class, opposition.

If you really dissect Nurmagomedov’s record, he hasn’t really fought anybody who has been Top 10 talent aside from Michael Johnson (Rafael dos Anjos wasn’t the RDA we know today when they met in 2014). The challenge for Barboza will be to throw the outside leg kick without telegraphing it because Nurmagomedov’s will most certainly take him down if he isn’t careful. But he’s been extremely effective with changing his levels of striking and keeping his opponents at striking distance. The line of +235 for Barboza makes him quite the intriguing play for the upset.

Another fighter on the wrong end of the odds is Carla Esparza, who comes in as a +215 underdog against the pitbull known as Cynthia Calvillo (-255). Esparza is an excellent wrestler who was the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champion but may be getting disrespected by oddsmakers because of her inactivity and struggles with strikers. Calvillo is certainly not a feared striker and relies on her tenacious wrestling and BJJ to overwhelm her opponents. This is certainly a game of grappling where Esparza has proven her worth against those who were unable to deal with her smothering wrestling and effective grappling. Calvillo is viewed as the young upstart, but the truth of the matter is the that Calvillo is actually a few months older than her opponent. Given the line and Esparza’s experience, I’m really liking the former champion in this one and the +215 line is a bit of a gift.

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