After hosting UFC 205, one of the most stacked events in the company’s history, the UFC is making a return to New York City with perhaps one of the weakest pay-per-view events in recent time — UFC 208. This card is being headlined by a championship fight for the inaugural women’s featherweight title between talented strikers Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie. UFC 208 also features a couple semi-important middleweight bouts pitting MMA legend Anderson Silva vs. Derek Brunson, and top contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Tim Boetsch.
What: UFC 208
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
When: The three-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 1 preliminary card begins at 8 p.m. ET, and the five-fight main card begins at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view.
Will Holly Holm become the first women in the UFC to win belts in two different weight classes? Will Germaine de Randamie become the first Dutch fighter to win a UFC title since Bas Rutten?
Whether you question the legitimacy of this title fight or not, you have to acknowledge that this is a high-level fight between two of the best strikers in women’s MMA. Holm is technical in her striking, has excellent movement, and keeps a good pace throughout the whole fight. The same thing can be said for de Randamie.
I think the main differences are that de Randamie has a reach advantage which enhances her rangy striking. I also think she packs more power than Holm, making her more dangerous on the feet. On the other hand, Holm has more experience than de Randamie in the bright lights. Both fighters might have a similar number of fights in MMA and other striking disciplines, but Holm has experienced fighting five rounds in the Octagon and headlining UFC cards; de Randamie has not. Also, Holm has faced tougher competition in the UFC than de Randamie.
Man, I have a hard time seeing Holm drop three in a row, but I don’t think she outstrikes de Randamie. I think this fight will mainly stay on the feet, where de Randamie should have an advantage. I see de Randamie getting the win.
Pick: de Randamie
This is a weird one. I never thought these two would fight each other; it just never crossed my mind until it was announced by the promotion.
Anyhow, Brunson was recently on a five-fight winning streak, and that came to an end last November in a very out-of-character performance against Robert Whittaker. I don’t think that knockout loss made me think any differently of Brunson as a fighter, since it didn’t expose him in any way; it was more a poor choice of strategy rather than a deficiency in skill. I still think Brunson is a hard-hitting striker with a bit of an unorthodox style that can give issues to many. He also has good takedowns and decent grappling.
Silva is a legend in MMA, and at one point he was the best fighter in the world. Today, he’s 41 years old, no longer champion, 0-4 with one no contest in his past five bouts, and has fought three times in the past two years. But despite all that, Silva still carries remains of that mystique that made him look invincible at one point in time, and he’s also shown sparks of greatness in his last two performances despite losing.
This is an odd fight to pick, but I think Silva pulls off the win here. I feel people don’t have much faith on Silva anymore, but his last two fights were against the very best — middleweight champion Michael Bisping and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier — so cut the guy some slack. Brunson tends to leave himself open when he pressures forward, and Silva is very accurate with his striking. And if Brunson decides to sit back and not pressure “The Spider,” Silva should be able to pick apart Brunson from a distance, as he’s the longer and more technical striker. I find Silva to be a bad match-up for Brunson.
“The Barbarian” is a good fighter and that’s why he’s been in the UFC for almost seven years, but he’s had issues with top-10 fighters, that’s no secret.
“Jacare” Souza is a top-three fighter and he’s likely to become middleweight champion one day. This is the easiest fight to pick out of the main card, as Souza bests Boetsch in just about every area of MMA. I think “Jacare” can keep this fight of the feet or take it to the ground, and he’ll find success either way. But due to the Brazilian’s past record, he’s probably going to take the fight to the ground and hunt for an early submission. Obviously, there is always that chance Boetsch’s toughness gets him through some adversity just to pull off a Yushin-Okami-type comeback, but that’s not so likely.
Cannonier, a former heavyweight that recently dropped light heavyweight, has shown to be very durable and athletic, and has solid boxing with big power. He’s 32 years old, but doesn’t have that many MMA miles in him, so I consider him to be a prospect that’s on the come-up. Teixeira on the other hand, is quite the opposite. The Brazilian is 37 years old, has been around the block many times, and you could make the argument that his better days are over. Teixeira is similar to Cannonier in many ways, as he’s a skilled boxer with crazy power, and he’s also very athletic. But Teixeira’s skills go beyond just being a scary striker, as he’s a talented grappler with excellent takedowns.
I find Teixeira to be the most well-rounded light heavyweight, and even at 37 years of age, I still consider him to be at the very top of that division. Cannonier got exposed a bit by his last opponent Ion Cutelaba, as he was taken down a few times. I think Teixeira is capable of outboxing Cannonier and win the fight on the feet, but why risk getting caught when he can put Cannonier on his back?
Although this is a solid Fight of the Night candidate, this fight is more than just violent entertainment to open up the pay-per-view main card. We could very well be staring at a lightweight contender at the end of this bout, as Dustin Poirier is ranked in the top-10 and Jim Miller is on a three-fight winning streak with victories over Takanori Gomi, Joe Lauzon, Thiago Alves.
Just less then a year ago, Miller was 1-4 in his past five bouts and it seemed that the end was getting near for the New Jersey native. However, since UFC 200, Miller has had a resurgence in his career and has looked extremely sharp. Poirier, although coming off a loss to Michael Johnson, has also looked good since his move up to lightweight, putting together a 4-1 record. I think this should be a competitive fight, but I find Poirier to have the advantage on his feet; he’s also the quicker striker. On the ground, I do give Miller the edge, but I think Poirier is skilled enough to stay out of trouble. I see this fight mainly staying on the feet and with “The Diamond” getting his hand raised at the end.