What it do my Mixed Martial Arts loving friends. I wasn't sure if I was going to get this column out this week or not because it's that weird week of the year between Christmas and New Year's Eve. It's such a confusing week because some people are off, a lot of people aren't, and there are annoying children everywhere. It's the social equivalent of living in Alaska when it's light 24 hours a day or being Tara Reid on a bender; nothing makes any sense and you are constantly asking "what day is it?"
The cherry on top of this shit sundae is traveling. My wife's brother lives in Central Pennslyvania which means every year I get to enjoy a 5 hour drive on the PA turnpike from my parents' place and eventually an 8 hour straight drive home. The next time one of your "woke" friends start spouting off about how there is no way Trump will win in 2020 tell them to take a road trip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and report back to you. By the time they reach the City of Brother Love they will be shaking like Marcus Bachmann after "accidentally" watching Magic Mike (again).
Usually I am merely looking forward to an UFC pay-per-view but after a full day of not committing multiple vehicular homicides because people are doing 55mph in the passing lane, I NEED UFC 219 and all the craft beers my family bought me for Christmas because I don't have a drinking problem, I just really like helping American small businesses succeed. I don't have time to do the usual full length preview so I am going to focus on the 3 fights that I am most excited to see this Saturday. So let's put the holidays behind us for another year and ring the bell for the UFC 219 Preview...
Music That Makes Me Want to Watch People Get Punched in the Face
"Map Change" by Every Time I Die
#8 Carlos Condit vs. #12 Neil Magny (Welterweight)
Carlos Condit's back! What's that mean? I dunno know yet but we are going to find out! Carlos Condit is a buzzsaw of a fighter that throughout his career has just put people to to sleep in hand to hand combat. The issue is he has routinely under performed when pitted against the best of the best in the division, losing fights to Georges St. Pierre, Johny Hendricks (in his prime), Tyrone Woodly, and Robbie Lawler. Finally after losing to Demian Maia in the main event on an UFC on FOX card over a year ago he took some time off from the cage. Now that he is back which Condit will we see? The killer of old or the guy that can't catch a break? And will we see any Octagon rust?
His opponent, Neil Magny, just seems to get stuck in the same rut, he will win 2 or 3 fights in a row and then drop 1 thus resetting his progress and keeping him out of the title scene. Magny is coming off a loss to Rafael Dos Anjos via triangle choke. A win here would be huge for his career as Condit still has name value in the sport. Magny has nothing to lose and everything to gain here.
So what do I think will happen? I think is a make or break fight for Condit. Magny is a good fighter but not a great fighter, he is definitely someone that Condit would have bored through in his prime, and is a perfect opponent to test himself against. If Condit loses, then it might be time to pack up shop and go to Bellator or risk sliding into the Jim Miller/Diego Sanchez/Joe Lauzon role of being a division gatekeeper that the fans love and still want to see fight but will never truly contend for the belt. I am an unapologetic Condit mark so my money is on the Natural Born Killer. Now let's all enjoy 4 minutes and 26 seconds of Condit dropping people and looking like an emotionless serial killer while he does it....
#2 Khabib"The Eagle" Nurmagomedov vs. #4 Edson "Junior" Barboza (Lightweight)
This fight should be worth the price of the pay-per-view alone. For a number of years analysts have proclaimed that Nurmagomedov is the uncrowned Lightweight champion in the waiting. Injuries and some horrific weight cuts have derailed him from fulfilling that prophecy but his impressive record still stands at 24-0. Nurmagomedov doesn't do anything pretty but it's effective as he takes his opponents to the ground and Donkey Kong grounds and pounds them.
His opponent, Edson "Junior" Barboza isn't an easy match up for him though. While Nurmagomedov will look to take things to the ground, Barboza will try to keep it standing with a full arsenal of devastating strikes. He is currently 4-1 in his last 5 fights and that one loss was to the reigning interim Lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson.
In the classic battle of the striker vs. the wrestler I almost always go with the wrestler and that is where I am leaning in this one. Nurmagomedov is a grappling nightmare and he will keep looking for the takedown all night long. While I do think that Barboza is talented striker I question if he has the takedown defense to force Nurmagomedov into a stand up battle. In the end though with Nurmagomedov's weight cutting issues finally in check I just feel that now is his time to make a serious run for the Lightweight title.
Now let's all enjoy a highlight video with bad Dubstep but if that is what Nurmagomedov is into then I am not going to make fun of him for it. I value my current facial structure and I don't want to end up looking like I tried to fight Oh Dae-Su.
Champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino vs. #2 "The Preacher's Daughter"Holly Holm (Women's Featherweight Title)
Your main event of the evening is an interesting match up as the age old question is asked again "Is there a woman that can defeat Cyborg?" If I was a Magic Eight Ball my answer would be "not likely". Cyborg is the T-800 of Women's MMA, an unstoppable killing machine that cannot be reasoned with or bribed. I can't think of the last time I saw her in serious trouble in a fight as most of her fights aren't a question of if she will knock her opponents out but instead how soon will she knock them out? Her last fight against Tonya Evinger was less about how destructive she is and more about how Tonya Evinger is tougher than a leather wrapped cinderblock.
Holly Holm made her name by being the woman to finally stop Ronda Rousey. She then went 0-3 in her next 3 fights. She hit the brakes on her skid by head kicking Bethe Correia and is now walking into the biggest fight of her career. When she fought Ronda there was no shame if she lost but now if she loses this fight she will be 1-4. I don't think the UFC would cut her because she'll always have name value but she would be put into fights where up and coming fighters could try to make a name off of her.
This brings us to Saturday night where these two finally meet in the Octagon. The same Cyborg shows up every time. Relaxed but ready to throw a blitz of strikes at any moment. She is incredibly strong and is not a person that you want to find yourself on the floor with. Holm is a striker and a damn good one. She definitely has the KO power to catch her with something coming out of the clinch or throwing a counter strike to something Cyborg throws. If Holm is winning the exchanges on the fight then Cyborg has the ability to take it to the ground and that is like trying to stop a very angry python. I'd like to see Holm win just because it would be some crazy movie shit but I think Cyborg will continue her run as the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla of Women's MMA. Here is a highlight reel of her punching people like she went full on Doom Berserk mode.
How were your holidays? What do you think is going to happen on Saturday night? Come to the Craft Brewed Sports FB Group and let's talk about it.