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UFC 232 Undercard Picks

by | Last updated Dec 28, 2018 | mma

UFC 232 Picks
When: Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 9:00PM EST
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada

Fight Analysis:

UFC 232 is a monster end-of-the-year event. That can be gleaned just by noticing that Cyborg vs. Nunes, a battle between two reigning UFC champions, isn’t even the main event. Cris “Cyborg” Santos has long been considered the top female fighter in the world, but luring big names into the octagon to face her has proven elusive. Enter Nunes, the reigning UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion. She looks to earn her second belt, as she goes after Cyborg’s UFC Women’s Featherweight Title. Who comes out ahead in this female superfight?

Cris Cyborg, 20-1 (17 KOs), (-255) vs. Amanda Nunes, 16-4 (11 KOs, 3 Submissions), (+215)

Cris “Cyborg” Santos takes on Amanda Nunes in UFC 232 on December 29 in Las Vegas. These Brazilian women are both at the top of their divisions and clearly the top two females in the sport today. Cyborg, 33, lost her pro debut, since winning every fight and leaving a lot of broken dreams and faces in her wake. She has made two defenses of her title and still appears to be at her peak. But the 30-year old Nunes is no wilting lily, having registered three defenses of the title she won by choking out Miesha Tate in 2015.

Normally, when a fighter moves up in weight to take on an established champion, there would be size concerns. Nunes is the same height as her opponent at 5’8,” but lacks the overall muscularity of Cyborg. Despite that, Cyborg still struggles massively to make even 145 pounds, and Nunes might be better off from not having to drain herself. So, do you favor Nunes for not having to struggle and drain herself to make weight? Or do you simply favor the bigger athlete?

Both women carry with them massive reputations and rightfully so. You see Cyborg throwing these women around, and it’s hard to not marvel at how she appears to stand head-and-shoulders above the pack. She has been competing at a high level for over a decade, and no one has really been able to compete with her, with most of those opponents being dispatched of in brutal fashion.

Nunes really made a big turnaround in her career. It wasn’t that long ago when she was considered merely a dangerous contender. But after being TKOd by Cat Zingano in 2014, she upgraded her game and has been brutal in her own right. It was a long walk to get here for Nunes. Like Cyborg, she lost her first fight and was just 9-4 after losing to Zingano. She started beating contenders and earned a shot at Tate, scoring a first-round choke win, before knocking Ronda Rousey out of the sport in a cut-throat exhibition of violence. She has been inactive, with just a fight apiece in 2017 and 2018, with her last win a last-round TKO over tough Raquel Pennington.

There might be a disparity in how each woman arrived at this spot and the difficulty it required. Cyborg has fought tough women—there is no disputing that. But perhaps the super-high level of her dominance needs to be tempered a bit. The UFC only just started a 145-pound class, a weight she can barely make. She has fought in the UFC just 5 times and against good fighters, but only Holly Holm stands out as someone who is anywhere near elite-status. Holm, by the way, went the distance in that fight and while Cyborg was dominant, she was less than the rampaging marauder we have seen in her other fights. The rest of her record is filled with solid opposition, but no one on this level.

Contrarily, Nunes holds wins over Germaine De Randamie, Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Tate, Rousey, and others who would rank above the vast bulk of Cyborg’s opposition. So when we look at each fighter and categorize what we see, it’s important to do so with the right context. From that standpoint, Nunes has perhaps shined at a higher level. Let’s also mention that this doesn’t mean Cyborg wouldn’t have thrived against a more-elite level of opposition or that it’s her fault. It’s just food for thought.

If one were to fancy the underdog Nunes, there is ample daylight. Cyborg hasn’t fought anyone with close to the striking menace of Nunes. When Amanda digs in and lets those fists fly, it’s a difficult package of power, speed, and coordination in which to deal. And being Brazilian, she is also tremendously-versed in jiu-jitsu and knows how to handle herself on the ground.

There should be some action on the ground in this fight, but both fighters got here on the strength of their standup game. But just as Cyborg hasn’t seen a puncher on par with Nunes, the same can be said for Amanda. Cyborg represents a level of strength and punching power in which Nunes is totally unaccustomed. It’s simply hard to picture another female fighter beating Cyborg. It’s a different level. You can break down a fight any which way, but at the end of the day Cyborg just has superior physicality for the purposes of winning this fight.

Nunes might have some edges and she is perhaps a more-technical striker, but over the course of rounds, I don’t think she can withstand the power of Cyborg. Nunes is a tremendous fighter with more versatility than a lot of people think. But it’s hard not to notice how even seasoned fighters who have to know what is coming are still shocked when Cyborg unleashes the full scope of her menace. Nunes will need to stand with Cyborg, and she isn’t a good enough boxer to thwart the stronger Cyborg. I’m going with Cris “Cyborg” Santos to win.

My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Cyborg at -255 betting odds. Nunes is unquestionably Cyborg’s most-dangerous foe and a champion in her own right. Cyborg, however, is the bigger and superior fighting force and over the course of the fight, those advantages will begin to take their toll until Nunes runs out of options.

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