Holly Holm had the will but not the horsepower to go along with it.
Cris Cyborg powered through Holm across five rounds to retain the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s featherweight title in the UFC 219 headliner on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Justino (19-1, 4-0 UFC) curried favor with all three judges by 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47 margins, even though it seemed far more one-sided than the scores indicated.
Holm (11-4, 4-4 UFC) landed her share of straight left hands and attempted to hold off “Cyborg” with body kicks, blocked head kicks and clinches, often pushing her to the fence with double underhooks. However, it proved to be an exercise in futility. Justino routinely bashed the Jackson-Wink MMA stalwart with clubbing right hands, doing noticeable damage to her left eye in the process. She unveiled more and more weaponry as the fight drifted along, mixing in devastating knee strikes to the body in close quarters, a few head kicks of her own and a punishing jab for good measure.
With no equal in sight, “Cyborg” has now rattled off nine straight wins.
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Indomitable Nurmagomedov Mauls Barboza
American Kickboxing Academy superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov grounded, pounded and systematically dismantled former Ring of Combat champion Edson Barboza across three rounds in the lightweight co-main event. Scores were 30-25, 30-25 and 30-24, all for Nurmagomedov (25-0, 9-0 UFC).
Barboza (19-5, 13-5 UFC) never stood a chance. Nurmagomedov marched him down with punches, pushed him to the fence and tripped him to the floor; he often appeared amused by his work, a sadistic grin stretching across his face. Barboza absorbed a horrendous beating whenever he hit the mat, as the Dagestani brute unleashed his ferocious brand of ground-and-pound with short punches and elbows. The scene repeated itself in all three rounds. Barboza took his shots when the two men were upright but too often found himself either operating off his back foot, struggling for air in the clinch or fighting for survival on his back.
The loss snapped Barboza’s three-fight winning streak.
Hooker Guillotine Taps Diakiese
Dan Hooker submitted former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion Marc Diakiese with a guillotine choke in the third round of their featured lightweight confrontation. Diakiese (12-2, 3-2 UFC) bowed out 42 seconds into Round 3, as he was saddled with his second straight defeat.
Hooker (15-7, 5-3 UFC) kept the explosive American Top Team prospect at bay with kicks and clinches, lulling him into a false sense of security. The New Zealand native executed a takedown and moved to Diakiese’s back with a body triangle late in the second round, setting the table for what transpired in the third. There, Hooker swept the Brit off his feet with a leg kick and caught the guillotine when Diakiese shot on a reactive double-leg takedown. He then moved to a seated mount position and prompted the tapout.
The 27-year-old Hooker has won three of his last four fights.
Esparza Upsets Undefeated Calvillo
Former UFC and Invicta Fighting Championships strawweight titleholder Carla Esparza won for the third time in four outings, as she turned away the previously unbeaten Cynthia Calvillo in a three-round showcase at 115 pounds. All three judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Esparza (13-4, 4-2 UFC).
Calvillo (6-1, 3-1 UFC) struck for a takedown inside the first minute, freed herself from an attempted armbar and passed to side control before applying her ground-and-pound, knees to the body included. The two women exchanged liberally in the second round, but Esparza started to turn the tide with two takedowns of her own. She hit the accelerator in the third, where she fired tight punching combinations inside Calvillo’s looping strikes, made a pass at a guillotine and buzzed the Team Alpha Male prospect’s tower with a picturesque left hook.
Magny Outgrapples Fading Condit
Repeated takedowns and superior topside grappling carried Elevation Fight Team’s Neil Magny to a unanimous decision over former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Carlos Condit in a three-round welterweight feature. Magny (20-6, 13-5 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 marks from the judges.
In his first appearance since August 2016, Condit (30-11, 7-7 UFC) never got out of neutral. The Jackson-Wink MMA representative connected with a spinning back kick to the liver and a handful of standing elbow strikes but offered little else of note from an offensive standpoint. Magny punctuated his punching combinations with hard leg kicks and executed takedowns in all three rounds.
Condit, 33, has suffered three consecutive defeats.
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