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


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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