EXCLUSIVE | Cris Cyborg explains what surprised her about five-round scrap with Holly Holm

Cris Cyborg vs Holly Holm, UFC 219

Last Saturday, in the main event of UFC 219, UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg stepped into the Octagon to attempt her first title defense. Her opponent on this quest was former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm.

While Cyborg ultimately came out on top in this fight, capturing a well-deserved unanimous decision, Holm certainly didn’t make it easy for her. The former bantamweight champ hung in there for the duration of the fight, landing meaningful offense of her own throughout.

Now several days removed from her UFC 219 title defense, Cris Cyborg says she was surprised by Holly Holm’s toughness, and her ongoing willingness to trade with a more dangerous puncher.

“Holly was very tough,” Cyborg told BJPenn.com’s Tom Taylor. “My team and I did not expect her to continue being aggressive once she felt my power. She’s a true warrior and she battled until the end trying to find a way to win.”

In a true testament to her toughness, Holm was the first woman to survive to the final bell with Cyborg since 2005 – in a five-round fight, no less. While this bout marked an end to Cyborg’s streak of crushing, stoppage victories, she’s not disappointed that a finish didn’t materialize. Instead, she was happy to show off her cardio and entertain the fans in a Fight of the Night winning scrap.

“I’m not disappointed that we didn’t get the finish,” Cyborg said. “Holly was a great challenge and I enjoyed my time in the ring. My cardio was perfect and I felt I could have fought another five rounds if I needed to.”

At the end of the day, Cyborg is reluctant to call this battle with Holm her toughest fight to date. That said, she admits that it did produce some interesting challenges.

“I don’t know if it was the toughest fight of my MMA career,” she said. “I still have a lot of fights. This fight did pose new challenges, however. I am very happy with my ability to adjust [in the face of these challenges].”

What did you think of Cris Cyborg’s thrilling win over Holly Holm?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/3/2018.