The UFC’s last show of the 2017 calendar year, UFC 219, finally has a title fight in the main event slot. The pay-per-view event, being held at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 30 will now see Cris Cyborg defend her UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship for the first time against perennial contender Holly Holm.
Fans have been teased with this fight for quite some time but it felt like a deal that kept all parties involved happy was always just out of reach. This is good news for a card which a suffered a blow earlier this month when former Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz was forced out of his bout with Jimmie Rivera due to a broken arm.
The UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship’s short history has already been marred by controversy and misfortune. In the inaugural title fight Germaine de Randamie fought Holly Holm to a controversial decision victory. Holm later tried to appeal the loss due to de Randamie landing strikes after the bell on more than one occasion. The appeal was later denied and the UFC focused on booking Germaine de Randamie’s first defense against Cris Cyborg. De Randamie refused to accept a fight with Cyborg citing the Brazilian’s PED history as her reason and was thereafter stripped of the title.
Widely regarded as one of the most intimidating fighters in mixed martial arts, Cyborg won the Featherweight Title with a 3rd round TKO of Tonya Evinger at UFC 214 in July this year. However the fight against Evinger, not a natural featherweight, was not the promotion’s originally intended fight. After inaugural champ Germaine de Randamie’s refusal to compete against Cyborg, Invicta FC Featherweight Champion Megan Anderson was booked to fight for the vacant belt. Anderson went on to pull out of the fight a month before, due to personal reasons. This left Cyborg’s crowning as UFC Featherweight Champ somewhat anti-climactic.
It is no secret that Holm versus Cyborg was the match that both fans, and the UFC wanted back in February with the promotion originally trying to book this fight for the inaugural championship bout. This did not happen with Cyborg declining and later being flagged for potential doping by USADA. But at UFC 219 it will finally come together.
Although still easily the thinnest division in the UFC, with Cyborg now facing a natural featherweight in Holm it feels like this is a chance at a fresh start for the belt and the division. Come December 30th Holly Holm is looking to once again shock the world as she did two years ago when she knocked out Ronda Rousey. But this will be no easy task against the woman who many consider the greatest female fighter on the planet, Cris Cyborg, who is knocking out one opponent after another on the road to cementing that moniker.
What a way to end the year.