LOS ANGELES — There’s little doubt what lies at the heart of the appeal in the main event of UFC 219.
Cris Cyborg, the UFC women’s featherweight champion, is the closest thing in the women’s MMA cage we’ve seen to a prime Mike Tyson, a fighter who runs over opponents like a shark who smells blood.
Holly Holm, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, is also a former world boxing champion.
So when you bring the two into the Octagon on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas, conventional wisdom holds the two are going to engage in a boxing match with four-ounce fingerless gloves.
Or are they?
Of Cyborg’s 18 career victories, 16 are via KO or TKO. But she says you shouldn’t assume their bout is going to go a certain way just based off past results.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Cyborg told reporters Tuesday. “It’s going to be an amazing fight and I need to be prepared for everything.”
Cyborg’s combat sports career accolades include the Strikeforce and Invicta featherweight titles. They also include a pair of World Jiu-Jitsu Championship gold medals. And even though Cyborg has rarely had to call upon her ground game in the course of her MMA career, she hinted that she’s ready to do so against Holm if the situation arises.
“Everyone’s style is different, but I have a lot of things in my game the people don’t know,” Cyborg said. “I’m a two-time world champion in jiu-jitsu, I can try to submit you.”
The champ also noted that Holm’s only loss via finish in her MMA career came to Miesha Tate, who used a technical submission via rear-naked choke to finish Holm and claim the UFC bantamweight title.
“Miesha already showed the way,” Cyborg said. “You know, I can stand up, I can KO her, I have a lot of things I can do, and yet I’m not surprised, I’m getting better each time with my game, and I can show a little bit about my game for all my fans, they can see a different Cyborg. It’s not just KO and trading.”
Either way, Cyborg says she’s ready to take the fight wherever he foe wants to go.
“I respect all my opponents,” Cyborg said. “I know Holly is going to be a big challenge for me because her game is very different. But I’ve been training a lot and I’m ready.”