Here's the official poster for UFC 219, featuring Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm

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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

The UFC’s final pay-per-view of the year, UFC 219, is less than a month away. Now it has an official poster.

The event, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, features a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

One of the biggest fights in women’s MMA history takes center stage in the main event when UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (19-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) attempts to continue her more than decade-long run of dominance. She takes on former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), who is looking to pull off another historic upset win.

The current co-headliner pits unbeaten lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) against highlight-reel knockout specialist Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC).

Check out the official event poster below (via Twitter):

The latest UFC 219 lineup includes:

  • Champ Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm – for women’s featherweight title
  • Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • John Lineker vs. Jimmie Rivera
  • Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza
  • Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny
  • Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker
  • Emil Meek vs. Kamaru Usman
  • Matheus Nicolau vs. Louis Smolka
  • Rick Glenn vs. Myles Jury
  • Omari Akhmedov vs. Marvin Vettori
  • Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Khalil Rountree
  • Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Sabah Homasi

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Holly Holm done with boxing career despite potential for new Zuffa venture

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DETROIT – Early in Holly Holm’s MMA career, she alternated between trips to the cage and boxing ring. Eventually, she tired of the commute.

There is now opportunity to return to her original discipline if the UFC makes good on a plan to promote boxing fights in addition to those in the octagon. But for Holm, a former boxing and UFC champ, she’s already made her choice.

“I am done boxing,” she told reporters ahead of UFC 218 in Detroit, where she appeared as a guest fighter. “I don’t have the passion for it any more, and it hasn’t come back to me. Maybe that’s because I’m still fighting, so I don’t feel like I ever really retired.”

Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) is set to face Cris Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) for the UFC women’s featherweight title at UFC 219, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It’s her third shot at gold in the MMA promotion, and undoubtedly the most dangerous.

Holm recently emerged from a three-fight skid that saw her lose the bantamweight title and fall short in a bout for the inaugural featherweight belt. Yet she’s never contemplated the idea of a return to the square circle.

She remembers leaving the locker room after an appearance at Bellator 91 with little motivation for the square circle six weeks later. She walked into her coach’s office after her first day of sparring for the bout and announced her next match would be her last.

“I didn’t know how I would feel when that fight was over, with a win if I’d be excited and want to do it again,” Holm said. “With a loss, I’d probably want to do it again, because I wouldn’t want to end like that. When the fight was over, it was beautiful. It was in my hometown and they brought a beautiful bouquet, and I’m standing there thinking, ‘I can’t wait to take my boxing shoes off.’

“And, that’s it. I keep thinking, am I going to ache for it again? And I don’t. And it’s not because I don’t love boxing. I did, obviously. I did it for 10 years professionally. It’s just my new motivation is this new career I’ve been on.”

With her accolades in both sports, Holm argues she’s the most qualified oppponent to stand across from Cyborg, who’s decimated her opposition in the cage.

“I do feel I’m her toughest opponent to date,” she said. “In an all-around way. There might have been one fighter that had a bit of a ground game. She had one fighter with a clinch game. But really, as far as the caliber of fighter and experience, I do feel like I’m somebody she hasn’t faced before, and that’s why this fight is going to be different.”

For more on UFC 219, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields rates UFC champ Cris Cyborg's boxing a solid 7

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DETROIT – Two-time Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields only got to spar with UFC champ Cris Cyborg once. But she was impressed by what she saw.

Cyborg and Shields first became acquainted via social media. The two knew of each other thanks to their accomplishments in their respective combat sports, but the relationship tightened during Shields’ campaign in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

It took a while for their schedules to line up, but the two finally got to hang out in person in Los Angeles. While they only trained together once, Shields said it was a productive session.

“She learned a lot that day,” Shields said. “She’s very athletic. I mean, 1 through 10, her boxing skills are at a 7. She’s very athletic. She’s strong. And if she puts 100 percent into boxing, to actually learn it, she’s going to have an easy transition over to boxing.” (via Twitter)

Although Cyborg also gave Shields some tips that would come in handy should she consider a transition to MMA, the boxer is not really planning on putting them to use for the time being.

“I’m going to try to stick to boxing as long as I can,” Shields said. “As long as I can make a million dollars.”

Even if they didn’t share that much time on the ring, the two hit it off. After Cyborg stayed by Shields’ side in her fight with Nikki Adler back in August, Shields returned the kindness by visiting Cyborg this weekend in Detroit, where the UFC’s women’s 145-pound champ promoted her upcoming UFC 219 encounter with Holly Holm.

Outside the ring, too, Shields is all praise for Cyborg. Like many who get a chance to personally interact with the UFC champ, Shields notices the contrast between Cyborg’s warm real-life persona and the more aggressive version that we sometimes see on social media.

But, for Shields, that too is part of the game.

“I think when you’re boxing, you have an alter ego,” Shields said. “And I think her alter ego speaks. On social media, she’s Cris Cyborg, the beast. But then off social media, she’s Cris cool, laid-back, funny. Nothing really gets to her outside the ring.”

At UFC 219, Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) gets to go against an ex-boxer in former UFC bantamweight champion Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC). But, while Shields knows Holm is a tough challenge, she believes Cyborg has the proper tools to come out on top.

“One, she’s got to catch (Holm),” Shields said. “Holly Holm is a great mover. She has a really good jab. Some head movement and then, whenever she can, slam her a couple of times, take some of the wind out of her. And then, after that, throw hands. And I think that Cris Cyborg is really good at throwing hands.

“She’s strong, she’s fast, and she’s very physical. So I think that she needs to keep it physical with Holly, not let Holly keep it pretty. And she’ll have a victorious night on Dec. 30.”

To hear from Shields, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

What we talk about when we talk about building 'stars' in the MMA business

Francis Ngannou showed up to the UFC 218 post-fight press conference looking resplendent in a black-and-gold dashiki, flashing a thousand-watt smile as he nonchalantly discussed that time he nearly knocked Alistair Overeem’s head clean off his massive shoulders.

It was one of the most brutal knockouts this side of Sean Salmon, and it came against a perennial heavyweight contender who’s been in the UFC for longer than Ngannou has even known what MMA is. Was he impressed with himself for this act of sudden devastation against such a prominent opponent? Not particularly.

“That is the past we are talking about,” Ngannou said. “Now I am the present.”

If you were writing a superhero movie and wanted to shoehorn in an MMA fighter character, you couldn’t do much better than this. The boy from the sand mines of Cameroon who became the fearsome fighting prospect while homeless on the streets of Paris. A martial arts savant equipped with an almost supernatural punching power, tossing off quiet one-liners with an oddly terrifying tranquility.

If he wasn’t already a real person, “The Predator” would have a Netflix series or a role in an Avengers movie by Summer 2018.

Instead, you can find him most days just walking around the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, where he must seem to company executives like a walking answer to their prayers.

That question UFC President Dana White always says he’s so sick of hearing, the one about how the UFC will replace the aging or departing superstars who drive pay-per-view buys? Now he can just point to Ngannou, a 31-year-old heavyweight whom the UFC signed two years ago on a contract that paid him just $12,000 to show for his first fight with the promotion. Talk about your “penny stock” fighters who pay off big.

But is Ngannou a “star,” in the MMA sense of the word? How about Max Holloway, who swaggered in with another sci-fi necktie to beat up Jose Aldo for a second time in the main event of UFC 218? How about UFC women’s featherweight champ Cris Cyborg, who, along with Holly Holm, will headline the UFC’s year-end pay-per-view event on Dec. 30?

Are any of them stars? What does the word even mean to us?

Historically, the UFC’s own internal flowchart on the question “Is this fighter a star?” typically points straight to the follow-up: “Depends – are they asking for more money?”

See, when the UFC is making the case for our money, usually in the form of pay-per-view buys, star fighters are everywhere, lighting up the night sky with their cosmic brilliance. It’s when those same fighters make a case for more of the UFC’s money that the galaxy suddenly grows dark.

All you need to do is look at the one remaining consensus superstar – Conor McGregor – to know that money is inextricably tied up with the question of what it means to be an MMA star.

McGregor’s fame isn’t just built on winning fights. Lots of people win fights. There are UFC fighters who have won more and lost less than he has, but you don’t see them making international headlines when they speed off from a court date in a six-figure sports car.

McGregor is a star in large part because he lives like one. He’s larger than life, and he never misses a chance to prove it with his bank account. No matter how much natural charisma the man may have (and he has a ton), he’d never be such an enduring public fascination if he were making $80,000 a fight.

I was talking to Charles McCarthy recently, a former UFC middleweight turned MMA manager (now retired from both businesses), who made a similar point about the UFC’s struggle to generate new stars on a budget.

“How are you going to get us to believe these guys are stars if they still have to work a day job?” he said.

It’s a solid point, and something to think about when you hear a broadcast full of fighters begging for a little bit of bonus money.

And yet, that money has the desired effect, does it not? It convinces hungry young athletes to disregard imminent health risks for the sake of our entertainment. It also brings with it some instant attention. After every UFC event, bonus payouts are a guaranteed story. The less star-studded the fight card, the more importance the bonuses seem to take on.

For instance, look at new UFC women’s strawweight champion Nicco Montano’s win at the TUF 26 Finale on Friday. Her story coming into the bout was her spartan existence in a crappy little basement apartment as she struggled to make it as an MMA fighter. Then she banked $100,000 for the title fight, plus a $50,000 performance bonus and another $30,000 in “outfitting” pay.

“We were dirt poor just before tonight in all reality,” Montano said after the bout. And now? “I’m going to go move to an apartment with some water pressure, and buy some good food and treats for my cats,” she said.

We love these stories in MMA. We revel in them, whether it’s Junior Albini, the heavyweight who could only afford empty shampoo bottles for his daughter’s toys before his first UFC payday and bonus, or Pat Barry living on rice and ketchup and then suddenly trying to convince the bank that he really did have tens of thousands of dollars to deposit out of nowhere.

It’s prizefighting, after all. It’s fitting that the “prize” comes first there.

Which brings us back to Ngannou. His knockout of Overeem was so memorable that White promised him a bonus (of an undisclosed sum), which was welcome news to the new top heavyweight contender.

“I do need that money,” Ngannou said.

And sure, of course he does. He’s in the middle of doing the rags-to-riches story. Started from the bottom and now he’s here. But where is here, exactly, especially when the man he’s tentatively slated to fight next – UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic – has been sitting out while griping about pay?

It’s hard to convince us that we’re looking at superstars if they’re mostly paid like middle management. It’s not much easier even if you are paying them well but then keeping it a secret.

The way you know the stars in this business? They’re outwardly, visibly rich. They have power. They can call some of their own shots and stand their ground. They are people whose wealth has become inseparable from their public persona.

They are also, perhaps not coincidentally, exceedingly rare in the brutal business of MMA.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Video: Champ Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm's first face-off at UFC 219 media day

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DETROIT – Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm faced off for the first time today ahead of their featherweight championship bout at UFC 219.

Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) attempts to make her first 145-pound title defense against Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) at the Dec. 30 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

With UFC 218 going down this week in Detroit, Cyborg and Holm were brought in to town to speak with the media and face off. Watch the video above to see their intense stare down.

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Why Holly Holm ditched that Celtic song for Led Zeppelin as her UFC walkout music

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but Holly Holm’s octagon entrance last time she fought wasn’t the same. She had a different walkout song in June at UFC Fight Night 111 in Singapore, and it was a pretty big change.

Out with the 1996 track, “The Landlord’s Walk,” by Blair Douglas.

And in with Led Zeppelin’s 1971 classic, “Black Dog.”

But why?

Via MMAFighting.com:

“I guess 2016 was kind of just a rough go of a year,” Holm said. “And I had three losses, and I thought, you know, my dad goes, ‘Maybe you should just get a whole different [song].’ Not that a song makes a difference, but let’s just have a new start, a new beginning. … Why not just pick a new walkout song and get a different thing going here?”

As Holm went about selecting her new tune, she reflected on the fact that much of her family was not going to be able to make it halfway around the world to Singapore Indoor Stadium for the bout, so she wanted to pick a song which would remind her of home and family.


That’s where Led Zeppelin came in – a band she and her brother listened to quite a bit growing up.

“I started thinking, it was the first fight that both of my brothers haven’t been at in a long time, and they’ve always been my biggest fan since I was young,” Holm said. “We always used to listen to Led Zeppelin on the way to school – Zeppelin or The Beastie Boys. So I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to listen to some Led Zeppelin.’ It was the song we listened to to get pumped up and go out and basically make a mess of things and cause some trouble.”

Trouble is certainly what Holm caused for Bethe Correia that night, en route to a third-round win via knockout to snap a three-fight losing streak.

“Black Dog” is a great song choice, vastly superior to that Celtic song if you ask me. But Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) said she doesn’t know if she’ll keep Led Zeppelin for her featherweight title fight against Cris Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) at next month’s UFC 219 pay-per-view in Las Vegas.

But here’s the thing: Once you make a connection between a three-fight losing streak and your walkout song, and then decide to “get a different thing going here” by choosing a new one, you can’t go back. You just can’t.

And also, how do you go back to that Celtic song after choosing Led Zeppelin? That’s like ordering filet mignon and then after one bite deciding to leave the steakhouse for McDonald’s.

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Opening odds: Champ Cris Cyborg is a hefty favorite over Holly Holm at UFC 219

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Can Holly Holm pull off another major upset? If so, some bettors could enjoy a small windfall.

As UFC officials announced on Thursday, women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) fights Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) at UFC 219, a pay-per-view event that takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Cyborg looks for her first title defense after winning the vacant belt with a third-round TKO victory over Tonya Evinger in July. Holm, meanwhile, looks to build off a June head-kick knockout win over Bethe Correia, which halted a three-fight skid to Miesha Tate (bantamweight title loss), Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie (featherweight title loss).

Holm’s skid is one reason she’s currently a substantial underdog heading into UFC 219. Veteran MMA oddsmaker Joey Oddessa has opened the line for the fight with Cyborg at -400 and Holm at +300.

The means a winning $100 bet on Cyborg would result in a net profit of $25 (with an implied win probability of 80 percent). A winning $100 bet on Holm, meanwhile, would come with a profit of $300 (win probability 25 percent).

Still, even at those long odds, Oddessa likes Holm’s chances – at least at that price.

“I’m probably in the minority, but I think Holly Holm has a legit shot at beating Cyborg,” he told MMAjunkie. “Most of Cyborg’s opponents dread standing and striking with her, but that’s where Holly is at her best.

“Unlike 18 of Cyborg’s opponents in the past who got crushed on their feet, Holm’s best path to victory may be by keeping the bout standing.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Holm won a bout due to her striking skills. The former pro boxing champion faced then-bantamweight champion Rousey, who was a massive -1650 favorite in their 2015 bout at UFC 193. It’s the only time Holm was the underdog in a pro MMA bout – and she pulled off one of the sport’s biggest upsets with the head-kick knockout.

Can she do it again? We’ll find out next month, but Oddessa said all the pressure is on her opponent.

“Holly really has nothing to lose,” he said. “She’s only been an underdog in an MMA fight once time. In her 2015 upset win (over) Rousey, many people, including me, wrote her off and didn’t give her much of a chance of winning.”

Although the current odds are available at limited places, the Cyborg vs. Holm line should be available at most major books in the coming days.

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Cris Cyborg-Holly Holm title fight officially booked for UFC 219

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The long talked-about women’s featherweight title fight between champion Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm is officially on.

The UFC tonight announced that the bout has been booked for UFC 219, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and airs on pay-per-view. It’s uncertain if the showdown will serve as the main event.

Arriving here has been quite the journey.

Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) have feuded for weeks on social media, seemingly hyping a fight that once felt inevitable. But then last week Holm’s longtime manager, Lenny Frequez, told MMAFighting.com the deal is “dead” after he and the promotion “could not come to financial terms.”

Cyborg’s manager, George Prajin, told MMAjunkie in response that Holm was intentionally “pricing herself out,” because she didn’t want to fight Cyborg.

“The big fights are the ones you want as a fighter,” Prajin said. “Those lead to the most money. I can’t speak for her camp. All I can say is that Cris has agreed to the fight.”

Things have changed obviously now with the official booking.

UFC President Dana White all along was optimistic about getting a deal done, despite Holm expressing concerns over drug testing that eventually spilled into a social media fight in which Cyborg and Holm verbally sparred over the issue.

Cyborg complained she’s been targeted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and questioned whether Holm’s camp – which she claimed had perpetuated more doping violations than any other camp – was under the same scrutiny. Holm shot back a video reply pointing out she’d actually been tested on more occasions in the most recent quarter of the year.

Now, after weeks of fighting through the media, the two women will finally face off in the cage.

Cyborg will attempt to make her first successful title defense after winning the vacant belt with a TKO of Tonya Evinger in July at UFC 214. Holm, the former women’s bantamweight champion, most recently knocked out Bethe Correia in June to snap a three-fight losing streak.

Holm was given the first shot at the newly created women’s 145-pound title earlier this year at UFC 208 but dropped a unanimous decision to Germaine de Randamie, who later vacated the belt after refusing to defend it vs. Cyborg.

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Cris Cyborg rep: Holly Holm 'pricing herself out' of UFC 219 title fight intentionally

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg agreed to fight Holly Holm at UFC 219 – that’s what her camp knows.

If money is what’s preventing the fight from happening, a representative for Cyborg says they’ll just have to move on.

“The big fights are the ones you want as a fighter,” manager George Prajin today told MMAjunkie. “Those lead to the most money. I can’t speak for her camp. All I can say is that Cris has agreed to the fight.”

Cyborg remains on good terms with the UFC and awaits her next matchup, Prajin said. That search remains active as the date for her possible return approaches.

Camps for Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) were in talks for a fight at UFC 219, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. But today Holm’s longtime manager, Lenny Frequez, told MMAFighting.com the dead is “dead” after he and the promotion “could not come to financial terms.”

“I would assume Holly doesn’t want to fight Cris,” Prajin said. “Holly is pricing herself out of the fight because she doesn’t want to fight her.”

Fresquez didn’t immediately reply to a message requesting comment.

UFC President Dana White was optimistic about getting a deal done, as was Holm, though she expressed concerns over drug testing that eventually spilled into a social media fight in which Cyborg and Holm verbally sparred over the issue.

Cyborg complained she’s been targeted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and questioned whether Holm’s camp – which she claimed had perpetuated more doping violations than any other camp – was under the same scrutiny. Holm shot back a video reply pointing out she’d actually been tested on more occasions in the most recent quarter of the year.

Prajin, though, shot down the idea that drug testing had anything to do with the difficulty putting the fight together. The real problem, he added, is finding a willing opponent.

“There aren’t many girls willing to fight her in the first place,” Prajin said. “So whoever’s willing to take that courageous step, hey, we welcome it.”

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Check out Holly Holm's unique training while she waits for 'good offer' to fight champ Cris Cyborg

Although the matchup seems imminent, Holly Holm has not officially signed to fight UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg.

A long-anticipated fight between Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) and Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC)) has been discussed for UFC 219 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas, but at this point the fight hasn’t been finalized.

Holm’s career is sitting idle while she apparently waits for a “good offer” to step in the octagon with the Brazilian titleholder. In that downtown, “The Preacher’s Daughter” and her team at JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., have come up with some creative ways to keep motivated (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

Just trying to keep Holly motivated while we are waiting for a good offer from the UFC. #runyourmouthwhileyoucan #yourfaceisinmyspace #ufc #holmvscyborg

Holm, a former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, has said she’s eager to compete against Cyborg and attempt to snap the Brazilian’s unbeaten streak of more than 10 years. She believes she has the solution to what’s been an unsolvable riddle, but believes she should be properly compensated for what would be one of the biggest fights in women’s MMA history.

Following a three-fight losing skid which included dropping the 135-pound title and a failed bid at the inaugural 145-pound belt, Holm scored a head-kick knockout of Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 111 in June to get her career back in track.

Although Holm and Cyborg recently sparred over the topic of drug testing for their fight, it appears both sides want better deals before stepping in the octagon at UFC 219.

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie