For Cyborg (19-1), it was her first first defense of the UFC women's featherweight championship and her biggest opponent to date.in the former bantamweight titleholder.
After five rounds, the judges scored the bout 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47.
"She was an incredible fighter", Cyborg said of Holm. She couldn't find the right combination of blows to put the badly marked-up but teak-tough Holm away, however, and she was forced to go the distance for the first time since 2008 and for only the third time in her entire career.
Holm was unfailingly courageous, and the punching ability that made her a former boxing world champion made her a risky threat.
Holm's face was beat up by the end, although neither fighter appeared seriously injured.
She had little to say afterwards, other than that she would like to fight at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia, in February.
Cyborg has an interest in fighting unified welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus - who was sitting ringside on Saturday night to watch the fight against Holm. At UFC 219, she saw the best competition of her career in boxing and kickboxing champion Holly Holm. The Ronda Rousey killer herself.
"I never think like that", "Cyborg" said. I've got a lot of fans there. The post-fight narrative has been that it should be either Justino's fellow Brazilian and UFC champ, Amanda Nunes, or Megan Anderson.
"I want to fight somebody at 145, maybe Megan Anderson", added Cyborg, who tallied 131 strikes compared to Holm's 48. "I just have to keep training and keep learning, because the girls are going to beat me, and I have to be ready".