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Can Holm Hack The Cyborg?

Please excuse the lame pun in the title there as it doesn’t reflect how excited I am for this main event. Holly Holm should present as a bigger spoiler than the odds suggest, but facing Cyborg is such an uphill battle that she might as well be climbing K2. Can Holm summit the peak and become a two-time champion in the UFC?

Tune in Saturday, December 30th to find out on pay-per-view. This card will be hosted by the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada with the fight lines coming off the board in the early evening. Don’t be dumb – just get your bets in on Saturday morning. Here’s where I’m leaning for the final fight card of the year.

Odds per

Holly Holm +295 over Cris “Cyborg” Justino -360

There are few real words that encapsulate the presence and aura of Cyborg. She hasn’t lost a real fight since her first outing, and has improved steadfastly as one of the most dominant female fighter of her generation. Some would argue that she’s the best female fighter of all time.

Others would detract from her legacy given the doping violations and suspensions that have dogged her career.

But this isn’t an exposé on the kind of person that Cyborg is. I am a huge fan of her as a fighter. Sue me for thinking that she’s fun to watch. The way she stalks her opponents is mesmerizing. The fact that her mystique is compounded by a virtually undefeated record only adds to the whole package.

However, Holy Holm is almost a perfect opponent for Cyborg. The boxing specialist, who has only improved as an overall striker, finally broke a rough three-fight losing streak to Tate, Shevchenko and Randamie by decimating Bethe Correia with a complete performance. There are those that would suggest that Holm is not at the elite level because of those losses, but I would very much differ.

There are many that believe that Holm is purely surviving on name value alone since she was the first to upset Rousey. I don’t buy that. She’s a great, cerebral force of nature that has a knack for rising to the moment. The loss to Tate was purely tactical, while going the distance with a former champion like Shevchenko speaks for itself. The loss to Randamie was extremely controversial and should’ve been tallied as a win for Holm.

All this means is that the gap between Holm and Cyborg is a lot closer than you would believe. I often advocate a flier wager on a sizeable dog instead of trying to make money on odds that are beyond -300. Cyborg is deserving of those odds, but that’s the beauty of the UFC.

In convincing myself to back Holm, I believe she can find a game plan to expose the few weaknesses that Cyborg has in her approach. I also think that her boxing experience will help her weather the storm – or should I say onslaught – that Cyborg approaches fights with. Make no mistake about this. Cyborg deserves to be a favorite, but at nearly 3-to-1, Holm is a very worthy value play depending on your stomach for risk.

Khabib Nurmagomedov -300 over Edson Barboza +250
Speaking of undefeated fighters, it’s Khabib Nurmagomedov! The polarizing and entertaining Russian is back after the highly anticipated matchup between him and Tony Ferguson was scrapped due to a botched weight cut. Nurmagomedov has so much to prove in this fight, and while Barboza will be a challenge, he’s just not on the same level. There is almost no reason to waste your time with Barboza here in terms of UFC 219 betting.

Carla Esparza +210 over Cynthia Calvillo -250
By every metric, Calvillo is a better fighter but the gap isn’t as cavernous as you might think. Her jab is still her best weapon, and her work rate has picked up, but there hasn’t been else much that stands out as a point of difference in her game.

Esparza is a slightly better takedown specialist and if Calvillo can’t stay on her feet, then the curve on this fight shifts dramatically. Esparza is a very gifted athlete, and it’s silly to believe that she won’t seek to improve her fight strategy given her ugly defeats over the years. The former strawweight champion has gone just 2-2 SU in her last four fights since dropping the title, and to be truthful, she hasn’t really improved all that much. That doesn’t mean that she isn’t trying to.

I’m willing to bet that we see a repackaged Esparza in this fight against a worthy fighter in Calvillo, who still has a long way to go before she matures in to a complete package.

Neil Magny +135 over Carlos Condit -155
I’m simply not convinced that Condit’s head is in the game anymore. He’s suggested retirement a few too many times, gone just 1-3 SU in his last four fights and really doesn’t stay that busy as an active fighter. Magny is by no means a great bet, but he can sometimes emerge as an ideal spoiler. I’d play this line softly if I were you. I know I am. Trying to use Magny to cover any wild swings you take on this card is probably a good idea.

Marc Diaskiese -195 over Dan Hooker +170
The improvement in Hooker’s style has been noticeable as he’s added a little more tact and finesse to his striking, but he’s still the same plodding fighter who fights like a bit of a backyard brawler. Diakiese is just 24 eyars old but has so much to offer. After suffering his first loss in the TUF Finale over the summer, I’d assume that the focus from his camp would be more dialed in. You have to lean heavy here to make money but Hooker shouldn’t pose a threat to the dynamic up-and-comer.

Check out all the UFC 219 betting lines at and scope out what the future has to offer fight fans as well!

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