Cyborg faced former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm in the main event of the evening in what was a fight built up as a contest between two of the best female fighters in the world. Holm's knockout of Ronda Rousey back in 2015 and Cyborg's 12-year run of destruction provided the perfect backdrop to get fight fans excited for the UFC's 2017 curtain closer and the atmosphere in the T-Mobile Arena was electric as both fighters made their way to the Octagon.
Many expected Holm to use her footwork to stay out of striking distance from the outset, but it became clear very early on she was willing to stand and trade with the Brazilian. Both women were tentative in the early going, but Holm landed a head kick and Cyborg returned with a right hand in the first meaningful exchange of the fight.
Another stiff right hand late in the first appeared to break Holm's nose, but she didn't looked to be fazed and she continued to trade with Cyborg on the feet in round two. The crowd broke out in a chant of "Holly, Holly, Holly" as the second round progressed and the American responded by bloodying the nose of the champion with a stiff left.
After being outpointed in the second, Cyborg looked to regain the initiative in round three as he pushed forward again trying to push Holm back. Cyborg looked to try and step in with a right hand, but Holm continued to do well to slip her punches and sidestep out of range. Cyborg landed a hard knee to the midsection of Holm in the middle of round, but Holm didn't look like she was slowing down and the two traded massive stinging hooks as the round ended.
Holm started round four well and landed a nice counter left as the crowd again began to chant her name. Cyborg responded with a stinging right hand and follow up body kick though and Holm's face began to swell round both of her eyes. Holm repeatedly looked to land head kicks, but Cyborg blocked them all well and she returned fire with her own. Holm then landed two solid lefts in the final minute, but Cyborg threw a savage straight right hook that rocked back the American's head.
The crowd applauded both women as the final five minutes began and both women reacted by trading at two paces once again. Holm landed a superman punch in the opening minute before they engaged in a battle of strength against the cage. The two broke apart after a stalemate and they both proceeded to unload strikes and for every Holm left hand, Cyborg would respond with a stinging right.
Cyborg looked to have Holm hurt with a right hook with 30-seconds remaining, but the American recovered well and the two finished the fight just as they started it with them both exchanging punches in the centre of the Octagon.
The crowd gave both women a standing ovation as the fight ended, but their fate was left in the hands of the judges. After a tense pause, Cyborg was announced the winner via a unanimous decision. It was close, but on the night Cyborg deservedly retained her title.
Khabib Nurmagomedov put a beating on Edson Barboza
In the co-main event of the evening, Khabib Nurmagomedov fought for the first time in over a year as he took on one the UFC's most feared strikers, Edson Barboza.
The fight started at an incredible pace as Nurmagomedov rushed out the blocks and looked to cramp Barboza with space. The Brazilian did well for two minutes using his footwork to evade on the onrushing Nurmagomedov, but the Russian scored a takedown after two minutes and proceeded to punish him with huge ground and pound on the mat.
Barboza survived the round, but the beatdown continued into round two and Nurmagomedov didn't slow down for a second as he continued to put Barboza on the back foot and take him down to the mat where he continued his assault.
This trend continued into the final five minutes as Nurmagomedov continued the relentless assault. Barboza rallied late and landed a stiff spinning head kick, but Nurmagomedov brushed it off like it was nothing and took him down to the mat once again.
After a very one-sided 15-minutes, Nurmagomedov took the scorecards on a 30-24, 30-25, 30-25 landslide. Speaking after the fight he called for a fight with either one of the UFC's current lightweight champions Tony Ferguson or Conor McGregor. After what we saw last evening, they better be ready to go to war.
Marc Diakiese suffers another setback
The British interest on the card came in the form of lightweight Marc Diakiese who fought Dan Hooker. Diakiese was returning to action having suffered the first loss of his career back in July, but unfortunately for him, he didn't get back to winning ways.
Rounds one and two saw both fighters start out cautiously, but as Diakiese opened up his striking in round three, Hooker slipped one of his right hands and locked on a guillotine choke that he couldn't escape. Diakiese tapped out and in doing so suffered his second straight loss in the UFC. After a bright start under the UFC banner, Diakiese is likely fighting for his future in the promotion next time out.
Elsewhere on the card, Neil Magny turned in an impressive performance against former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Condit to take home a dominant unanimous decision victory. Carla Esparza is also back in the thick of the title mix at 115-pounds after she defeated rising star Cynthia Calvillo via a unanimous decision.
UFC 219 full results
Cris Cyborg def. Holly Holm via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Edson Barboza via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-24)
Dan Hooker defeated Marc Diakiese via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 0:42
Carla Esparza defeated Cynthia Calvillo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Neil Magny defeated Carlos Condit via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Michael Oleksiejczuk defeated Khalil Rountree via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Myles Jury defeated Rick Glenn via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Marvin Vettori vs. Omari Akhmedov is a majority draw (28-28, 29-28, 28-28)
Matheus Nicolau defeated Louis Smolka via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)Tim Elliott defeated Mark De La Rosa via submission (Anaconda choke) – Round 2, 1:41