It’s been far too long since the last UFC PPV aired (UFC 207, aka the day that Ronda’s career died), which also was the last time I shared my effortlessly hilarious and very, very sharp analysis to the world. So sharp. Sharper than sharp cheese, which is really sharp. Way too sharp. Not tremendous. The main event of UFC 208 will feature a featherweight title fight for the women’s division, a brand new division that the UFC will be trying to push in 2017. The fighters involved are actually bantamweights but we’ll ignore that for now. Holly Holm and Germaine De Randamie will battle it out for the brand new gold belt, and yes, it’s a 5 round fight. Yes, Holm is coming off consecutive losses and De Randamie’s opponents have combined for zero UFC wins thus far. Your point being? Yeah, I thought so.
Anderson Silva was kind enough to put himself on the card in an effort to make it sort of a respectable PPV, as he’ll go toe to toe against one of the rising stars in the middleweight division in Derek Brunson. Some may point out that Brunson is coming off a devastating KO loss to Forest Whitaker….wait, I mean Robert Whittaker. That was a back and forth crazy fight where each other had chances for the finish and Brunson just happened to be on the wrong side of the exchanges. Still, he was on an impressive streak of his own before the loss, having finished his last 4 opponents in a row and all in the 1st round to boot. It’s a classic battle between an uber-aggressive striker versus one of the most vaunted counter-strikers of our era and in the history of the UFC. Can you say explosive knockout?
As always, I’ll be outlining all of the fights involved on the UFC 208 card but with more of an emphasis on what strategies to expect from each fighter rather than focusing on past accomplishments or if they have 80% finishes on record. That doesn’t matter! The stylistics of the fight are what allow for finishes! Unless you’re Anthony Johnson, in which case a single punch can change the entirety of the fight, or the victim’s jawline in Rumble’s case. Let us pray to the violence gods.
Rick Glenn vs Phillipe Nover
No, it’s not the guy from the Walking Dead. Rick Glenn took a short notice fight against Evan Dunham, and then got punched in the face 144 times. It was not a good debut for the guy, but he’ll get a far easier test against Phillipe Nover, who’s just someone you shouldn’t care about at this point. Glenn’s a nice combo of technical striking with solid grappling skills and has a good future in the sport if he keeps growing, while Nover is just what he is – a guy who runs away way too much and doesn’t display much in the way of striking or talent at all. He’s had two stints with the UFC, going 1-5 in that stretch with his lone win being a split decision over a guy who’s currently 1-2 in the UFC. Snore.
Glenn has a good striking base, sitting in his southpaw stance and relying on his left straight to do most of his damage on the feet. He’s got a good sense of timing and when to land the counter-left. Coupled with a brown belt in BJJ, Glenn can be equally dangerous from top control if he’s able to bully his way into the clinch and set up a variety of take-downs. Against Nover, Glenn will probably try to batter him with the straights and try to continually corner Nover in an effort to keep the damn runaway still enough to KO him. Nover has some OK wrestling and would be a better striker if he decided to try and land a strike more than once every minute. Nover will be relying on his quickness and probably wrestling to win a boring decision over Glenn, but unfortunately for him, Glenn is just better in every area than Nover. If Glenn can catch Nover consistently with the left straight or gets into the clinch and drops Nover to the mat, there’s a decent chance for a finish. I wouldn’t put my eggs in the Glenn basket though, as most of Nover’s fights are unwatchable. I lean towards a late stoppage for Glenn just because Nover is that bad.
Glenn via 3rd round TKO
Roan Carneiro vs Ryan LaFlare
The match-up pits a BJJ black belt Carneiro against a competent wrestler with a decent stand-up in LaFlare. Normally, I would favor the grappler against a wrestler, since they’re more capable of turning the tide with a single well-placed choke attempt or finding a way to reverse position from full guard. However, LaFlare is a hard man to submit and does utilize good top control and doesn’t allow himself to get caught in a front lock on take-downs. He’ll have the edge on the feet since Carneiro’s stand-ups leaves much to be desired and generally prefers to get the fight to the ground. That’s not a great recipe against an already solid wrestler with the speed advantage.
LaFlare is a combination based striker, using the jab liberally as he shimmys his way around the cage with plenty of jab combinations. He’s been working on landing cleaner, more technical exchanges over the last few fights, and I’m gonna bet that LaFlare will look to continually land the straight right on Carneiro. His wrestling is reactionary-based, but he does a great job at mixing in double legs during exchanges and being able to get a level change on counter attempts. Before his loss to Demian Maia, LaFlare actually landed 19 successful take-downs during his 4 fight UFC winning streak. That’s plenty of points right there, but I doubt we will see much wrestling from LaFlare against an accomplished grappler who’s very dangerous off his back.
Here’s the thing – that’s all Carneiro may be good for in the match-up. Sure, he could in theory get a take-down or two against LaFlare’s tendency to throw out naked leg kicks, but Carneiro’s never really been a great offensive wrestler and the submission wins he has on record aren’t because of his offense. It’s a tough match-up for Carneiro since he’ll be chasing LaFlare for most of the fight, but at least he probably won’t get knocked out due to the lack of power in LaFlare’s stand-up. That always leaves the door open for a late round take-down and submission. Then again, LaFlare might decide to go ahead and show Carneiro what wrasslin’ looks like and ends up getting choked out. MMA is crazy like that sometimes. Still, it’s LaFlare’s fight to lose and unless he hits on some clean take-downs, I’m probably not going to expect a high score from LaFlare.
LaFlare via unanimous decision
Justin Willis vs Marcin Tybura
Willis will be stepping in on less than a week’s notice as he replaces the injured Luis Henrique against Marcin Tybura. Willis is a huge heavyweight who’s currently training out of AKA, so he may turn out to be a decent prospect. Tybura is coming off a thrilling headkick KO win over Viktor Pesta that finally showcased his skills that many were excited about before his UFC debut loss deflated his hype. It’s a striker vs wrestler battle, and the short notice gives a big edge for Tybura despite the size disadvantage as Tybura should have the cardio edge and had a full camp. Heavyweights!
There’s limited film on Willis, but one thing’s for sure – the guy is very big. He seems to like to push forward and get into his opponent’s faces, rushing in with a wild winging hook that usually gets him where he wants to be and get his hands on them. From there, it’s mostly take-downs by strength rather than finesse and sometimes some cage holding. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of Willis’ stand-up as it just consists of a left overhand and winging hooks. That’s not a good thing against Tybura who will have a decided speed advantage and has a much better striking base. Tybura is also better than Willis in the clinch, as his drag/trip take-downs could overwhelm Willis and could be a quick win if Willis is inexperienced off his back as usually is the norm for big heavyweights. Tybura just has a huge striking edge and simply needs to stay off the ground and take advantage of the short notice on what should be a gassed Willis if it goes past the 1st round. Tybura’s got more tools up his sleeves to finish Willis and a damn strong chin to boot. I really don’t see Willis winning if he’s unable to get his offensive wrestling going, and I could very well see Tybura flipping the script on Willis in the clinch with a trip take-down and ending it with a submission.
Tybura via 1st round RNC
Ian McCall vs Jarred Brooks
What a year for McCall. The dude can’t catch a break at getting a fight. Whether due to injuries to himself or others, McCall was scheduled to fight 5 different opponents over the past year. He was supposed to fight Neil Seery, but due to a family passing Seery had to pull out from the fight. Instead, it will Jarred Brooks in his stead on a few weeks’ short notice. Brooks has a great wrestling background and was a top amateur prospect, going undefeated as a pro with a 12-0 record. Brooks could definitely surprise some people if the late notice doesn’t get to him early.
Ian McCall has always been the same fighter for many years – a side movement boxer who mixes in level changes and reactive take-downs from time to time. He’s always been a staple of the flyweigt division with his quick change combinations and ability to control the fight by taking it to the ground. Lately, whether due to injuries or age, McCall hasn’t been able to catch people off guard with his speed nor has he been able to be an effective wrestler. He was thrashed on the feet by John Lineker, even getting dropped at one point. Beating up an old and declining Brad Pickett didn’t really show much of anything, so I’m going to rely more on his fight against Lineker as a predictor of his performance.
Brooks has some really good take-downs from anywhere that can be lightning fast and has a stout frame with a low center of gravity (5’3” height). Brooks seems to like spraying leg kicks and trying to goad his opponents into countering him only to be quickly taken down and smashed on the ground. McCall will have to rely on his speed and boxing combinations to keep himself away from Brooks’ inevitable take-down attempts. With how strong Brooks has looked on his take-downs and how effective his top control game has been, I’m going to go with the upset here as McCall struggles to keep himself off the ground. Keep in mind that Brooks is taking the fight on short notice, so cardio may be an issue down the stretch, but I like the kid’s offensive wrestling and ground offense more than McCall’s boxing and movement. If Brooks is able to hit his take-downs and gets advances, he could end up being the best dog play of the night.
Brooks via unanimous decision
Islam Makhachev vs Nik Lentz
After a completely out-of-nowhere 1st round KO loss to Adriano Martins, it was great to see Makhachev forget about the embarrassing loss and put on a wrestling/control clinic on Chris Wade. That performance firmly put Makhachev back on track at being a top prospect for the 155 lb. Division, but he’ll have to get past a tough veteran obstacle in Nik Lentz. Similar to Wade, Lentz also relies on his clinch offense and solid wrestling fundamentals, though he’s definitely preferred to stand as of late. Maybe he wants to shed the image of being a decision machine or has just improved that much in the striking department. Whatever the case may be, it’s another test Makhachev has to endure through in order to climb up the lightweight ladder.
Makhachev’s wrestling is very strong in Sambo techniques and comes from learning under the tutelage of one of the best offensive wrestlers in the UFC, Khabib Nurmagomedov. He’s basically his little brother. While his stand-up is improving and does boast a lightning quick and powerful left hand, Makhachev lacks technique and the veteran savvy needed to be able to employ such power without getting consistently caught, as was the case against Martins. The crux of his offense is based around his plethora of take-downs that Makhachev can land at will from any range, especially if clinched up. Point blank, the guy is a legitimate offensive weapon with his wrestling repertoire, in addition to being a master at controlling his opponents from top control, making smart, concise advances to pass defensive guards into advantageous positions for submission attempts.
Lentz does most of his damage in the clinch wrestling wise, hitting clean sweeps and creating opportunities for the classic trip take-down. He’s also capable of landing a bodylock take-down if he’s got the strength advantage, but generally doesn’t attempt many take-downs from range without clinching up. That leaves enough room for Makhachev to be able to find his range and do his Sambo thing. Lentz is as much of a veteran as they come in the UFC, and he’s been involved in many brawls and gritty fights, so Makhachev would be smart not to get sucked in striking exchanges against Lentz for too long and focuses on utilizing his much better offensive wrestling. Lentz’s best course of action in getting a win would be keeping the fight on the feet where he should have a slight edge due to a fuller complement of strikes at his arsenal and cleaner technical striking.
Lentz has always struggled against those who possessed a great single/double leg take-down, but can hold his own on the ground from his back, so don’t expect an early finish from Makhachev. Instead, look for some quick exchanges that involves Makhachev’s left against Lentz’s pressure striking attack, then eventually Makhachev taking over the flow of the fight with dominating ground control after a successful take-down, depleting Lentz’s gas tank and sealing the victory in the waning moments. With how often Makhachev attempts advances, a decision victory could potentially leak into the high 80s or 90s on DraftKings, making Makhachev an ideal cash game play.
Makhachev via unanimous decision
Ulka Sasaki vs Wilson Reis
I’m not really sure why the UFC made this match-up or that Reis even accepted it, but I still gotta break it down either way. Reis has been looking very impressive over his last few fights and even during his loss to Jussier Formiga, to the point where he may have been in the spotlight for a title shot if Reis kept up his performance. Instead, he’ll get an easy test against an admittedly dangerous submission grappler Ulka Sasaki, coming off a good showing with a submission victory over Willie Gates that snapped a 2 fight losing streak. Reis is a legitimate BJJ black belt and one off the elite grapplers in the flyweight division while having faced similar elite competition, which makes the match-up a little confusing. A dominant performance likely puts Reis over for a title shot, so keep that in mind while making your lineups.
Ulka Sasaki wants one thing and one thing only – get the fight to the ground. He has no real offensive take-downs, as the majority of his take-downs are done in the clinch. That presents a variety of problems, the main one being his utter lack of any sort of striking defense as he tries to get himself into the clinch. It’s what got him destroyed against Taylor Lapilus. It’s also what got himself submitted against Issa as he failed a hip toss and ended up on his back. The point here is Sasaki has many flaws that Reis can take advantage of that could turn into an early finish. What I’ll focus on is Reis’ ever improving striking skills that’s helped him flawlessly transition into his already formidable wrestling/grappling offense at any point of the fight. Reis was able to notch 9 take-downs against one of the better wrestlers in the division in Dustin Ortiz. Sasaki is nowhere near the level of Ortiz as far as defensive wrestling, or even just overall defense. So you’ve got a clinch-heavy grappler who struggles at defending take-downs and has a very porous striking defense against one of the strongest flyweights with an elite grappling background and an emerging confidence in his striking ability. It’s no wonder why Reis is such a big favorite, and you’d be crazy not to roster him as your big cash cow on your cash lineups as he’ll be able to rack up points any way he wants. I can see a take-down clinic for Reis as Sasaki struggles to get back up on his feet only to get suplexed over and over. Or Reis could just go ahead and put him out of his misery with a RNC. Either way, Reis needs a dominant win to really get his name out there.
Reis via 2nd round RNC
Belal Muhammad vs Randy Brown
Hey, it’s that guy Randy Brown from the Dana White show! He’s probably the most talented fighter to come from the show, or at least the most accomplished so far in the UFC. He’s now reeled off two straight wins including a TKO win over Brian Camozzi. Yes, he hasn’t really fought anyone of note, but the fact he’s winning and looking solid is good for his future. He’ll be facing his toughest test to date in Belal Muhammad, coming off a loss at the hands of Vicente Luque who quickly dispatched him in less than 2 minutes. Muhammad’s still a solid boxer who can give Brown some fits standing especially if he can mix in take-down attempts. Let’s see if beating up Erick Montano and Brian Camozzi really means anything for Randy Brown.
I’m not really sure why Randy Brown is the favorite against Muhammad, but it may have something to do with Muhammad’s bad tendency to over-reach on his punches and getting countered to death. It happened against Luque for the KO loss, and against Jouban but was able to recover from getting dropped to make it a close fight. That’s really the only reason I can see Brown being the favorite as he’s still a very raw fighter, especially on the feet. He prefers to land one hit strikes and run, behind a decent jab and obvious athletic ability. Brown got lit up on the feet against a lanky Brian Camozzi, a guy who had no business to even come close to hurting Randy Brown. But he did, and that’s why I’m going to pick Muhammad for the upset as his boxing is just much more crisper and polished. He can land the counter-right every time Brown tries to come forward with the jab, much like Camozzi did and even Erick Montano. It’ll come down to whether or not Brown can either crack Belal’d chin early or utilizes his solid wrestling and punishes Muhammad on the ground with a well established ground and pound game. I just don’t think Brown has enough offensive wrestling to stay away from Muhammad’s boxing, and a late stoppage is very possible with the way Muhammad swarms hurt opponents. Remember the name!
Muhammad via 3rd round TKO
Dustin Poirier vs Jim Miller
I’m intrigued by this fight mainly because Jim Miller’s biggest weakness has been defending himself against better strikers and Poirier hasn’t really been tested by a legitimate BJJ guy with wrestling lately. Poirier is coming off an unexpected KO loss to Michael Johnson, which ended his 4 fight winning streak that included 3 1st round KO/TKOs. He’ll look to try and stop the 3 fight win streak of Jim Miller, including a questionable split decision win over Joe Lauzon. It’s a pretty clear cut match-up as far as how either fighter can win the fight based on their skill-set. It’s a no frills stylistic match-up that should play out in 1 of two ways really – a Poirier savage beatdown or a Miller wrestling exhibition.
Poirier is undoubtedly the better striker of the two, with an underrated grappling game that’s saved his behind more than once over his UFC career. He’s got some legitimate power and a crafty southpaw striking style that’s heavily based on pressure and landing overwhelming flurries that can quickly add up over time. He carved up a pretty good boxer in Bobby Green within minutes and knocked him flat out, something that had never happened to Green in his career. The thing that’s always held back Poirier from becoming a truly elite fighter is his chin. He just gets rocked way too much and even someone who wasn’t known for his power in MJ was able to catch him on a vicious counter and put the Diamond to sleep. Thankfully for Poirier, Miller is even less known for his power than MJ is and hasn’t knocked out anyone in over 6 years since his knee KO over Kamal Shalorus. You might notice a TKO win over Takanori Gomi, but that wasn’t an actual knockout as he had Gomi’s back and simply was able to rain down hammer fists.
The biggest strength for Jim Miller is going to be his wrestling against Poirier, something he’s recently been able to tap into that’s resulted in the current win streak and keeping Miller relevant. He’s very good at taking his shots on striking exchanges while getting pressured, something he did very often against Thiago Alves (4 take-downs and 5 advances). That’s something Poirier has to be cautious about as he probably knows the best way to dominate Miller is to continually push forward, catching him from range and landing the devastating counter. Miller is an excellent BJJ black belt with one of the better top control games in the division, but Poirier does have a size advantage and has solid defensive wrestling fundamentals with great scrambling ability. It’s a question of whether or not Miller can overcome Poirier’s flurries and size advantage to be able to use the Thiago Alves plan effectively (take-downs and ground control, avoiding unnecessary striking exchanges as much as possible). Alves was inexplicably dropping down to 155 after being a longtime 170’er and had already been known for a lack of take-down defense, so I’m not going to hold my breath on Miller repeating the same performance against Poirier. It likely comes down to the stand-up battle and considering Poirier’s already a monster in the clinch, it makes sense that he’s a fairly big favorite with his KO power and size advantage negating Miller’s wrestling and any clinch-up opportunities. A finish seems likely for Poirier if he’s able to keep it standing long enough, but Miller’s as dangerous of a dog as they come so be sure to hedge your lineups.
Poirier via 2nd round TKO
Glover Teixeira vs Jared Cannonier
This is a pretty big step-up for Jared Cannonier, as Teixeira is a top 5 LHW with wins over people like Rashad Evans, Ovince St Preux, and Patrick Cummins. He’s only lost to the elite of the division like Rumble Johnson and Jon Jones. Still, the weaknesses of Teixeira (his chin!!!!) warrants a closer look at the match-up despite the glaring talent and experience difference between the two big men. Cannonier’s coming off a gritty win over Ion Cutelaba, shutting up critics of his chin and cardio, Meanwhile, Teixeira is still licking his wounds after a brutal KO loss to Rumble Johnson that may still haunt his dreams to this day. It’s very, very likely there will be an early finish by either fighter so be sure to sprinkle each of them in your lineups.
Let’s just put this to rest. Teixeira is better than Cannonier in almost every facet of the match-up. He’s a cleaner, more polished boxer with infinitely better offensive wrestling and the BJJ grappling skills to turn any take-down into a submission win. The only edge Cannonier may have over Glover would be his speed and age. That’s really it, but alas, this is MMA we’re talking about here. A sport where chins do indeed matter and can turn a seemingly hilariously lopsided match-up into a razor close fight. Teixeira just doesn’t have the chin to hold up against any possible counters from Cannonier, having been rocked in nearly every fight including the famous KO win over Bader while momentarily badly rocked. Cannonier has showed enough oomph on his counters that I can feasibly see a 1st round KO if Teixeira messes around and tries to keep it standing for too long. Here’s the thing – I believe in Teixeira’s talent and coaching that I don’t think Glover is gonna keep it standing for too long. He’s going to take advantage of the utter lack of take-down defense from Cannonier and relative inexperience on his back. Think back to the OSP fight, where Teixeira was at a reach disadvantage against a guy with legitimate one punch power that many thought would catch Glover coming in for the KO win. What ended up happening was a Glover dominance on the ground, hitting on 5 take-downs and 11 advances for a 3rd round submission win. It also showcased his brutal ground and pound tactics that softened up OSP for the submission. That’s what I see happening again versus the Killa Gorilla, as Teixeira lands his signature double leg take-down and turns it into a 1st round finish of whatever he wants. Again, I must make this abundantly clear – the lack of a chin does warrant lineup consideration for Cannonier, but ignore the odds. It’s not a close match-up due to their skill-sets.
Teixeira via 1st round TKO
Ronaldo Souza vs Tim Boetsch
Hmm. Really? Not sure if Jacare Souza just got tired of waiting for the title shot that would never come or has been asking for a fight and only Boetsch accepted. Whatever the case may be, it’s a top 5 middleweight fighter against an aging veteran that’s been on the wrong end of brawls lately. If Jacare struggles against the hard-headed Boetsch, he can go ahead and kiss any title shot hopes goodbye. Possibly one of the best grapplers in the entire UFC, Jacare will try and break an arm or two in a statement win.
I’ll keep this short and sweet. Jacare wants to get the fight to the ground. Boetsch does not. Jacare isn’t the greatest on his feet and can be very hittable, and Boetsch has enough juice in his hands to knock out anybody in the division. Can Boetsch do enough in the 1st few minutes to get the massive upset before getting thrown onto the mat and getting chewed up by the snarling Jacare? For those of you who still don’t know what a jacare is, it’s basically a crocodile. OK, back to the fight. Jacare doesn’t really have any patented actual take-downs from range, but knows his distance and skill-set enough to wisely jump into the clinch and put to use his black belt in Judo and Frisbee his opponents to the ground. From there, it’s just a matter of time until Jacare figures out your weaknesses and chomps his way into a submission attempt. Boetsch is historically bad off his back and has been declining lately in all facets of his MMA game, so I don’t have much hope in a Barbarian revival if he somehow survives the 1st round. Your only real worry with Jacare is if he can manage to finish it in the 1st round or ends up with a boring decision win with 3 take-downs and not many advances. I don’t think we’ll see a passive Jacare, so I’m heavily in favor of a 1st round submission for him.
Souza via 1st round arm triangle
Anderson Silva vs Derek Brunson
Ahhhh, another appearance by the Spider. Anderson Silva’s currently riding a 4 fight losing streak technically, as his win over Nick Diaz was ruled a no contest due to Diaz being popped for good ol’ mary jane. That’s not to say he’s looked bad during the streak, as he probably should have gotten the KO win over Bisping after the flying knee right before the bell. Either way, he’s still gotta bring it against Derek Brunson, coming off a 1st round KO loss to Robert Whitaker that snapped his 5 fight win streak with 4 straight finishes in the 1st round. During that streak, Brunson completely abandoned his strong wrestling background in favor of an admittedly wild and uber aggressive striking style that’s propelled him to near top 5 status. It may turn into a great stylistic match-up for the Spider provided that Brunson still has amnesia over his wrestling chops. Is it finally time for an Anderson Silva win? Maybe.
It’s yet another no frills match-up that should play out as many will predict. Anderson’s still one of the most fearsome counter-strikers in the UFC, and that’s just going to stay as his bread and butter versus anyone. That can lead to bouts of inactivity and staring contests against certain fighting styles. That shouldn’t be the case here against Brunson, a willing striker who will most likely be the lead dancer on the majority of striking exchanges between the two. That means it’s going to come down to who can land the biggest strike first, as both men have had history of getting knocked out. Silva has the worse chin of the two, and has been pretty hittable over the past few years as evidenced by Bisping’s 108 significant strikes landed. Some of those strikes seemed to rock Silva for a moment, which is worrisome considering Bisping’s never been known for his power. Brunson did just get knocked out by Whitaker, but it took several ridiculous glancing blows to put him away. The main takeaway from that fight is that Brunson was willing to put his face on the line in an effort to get right in Whitaker’s face and smash it with his fists and feet. That’s not a good plan against an elite counter-striker like Silva who still has the one punch power to end any beginnings of a flurry.
What I’m trying to get at here is based on the history of both fighters, someone’s probably gonna get knocked out. Silva has the edge in speed and countering ability, while Brunson has the better chin and the cojones to rush Anderson with reckless abandon in an attempt to catch Anderson on a winging hook that would likely drop the Spider. It really does come down to who can land the most damaging punch first, provided that Brunson doesn’t actually try to wrestle Anderson. If that scenario does happen, it should be a dominant performance by Brunson with many take-downs and maybe a chance at a TKO win with ground and pound. I haven’t seen any inkling of that scenario happening based on his last 4-5 fights, so I’m gonna stick with the prediction of a stand-up battle. This is a really difficult fight to ascertain who has the real edge over the other, but I’m a sucker for nostalgia. The return of the Spider with a classic backstep left straight KO for the win! Now make the GSP vs Anderson fight happen already! Or McGregor. Whichever one works.
Silva via 1st round KO
Germaine De Randamie vs Holly Holm
It’s the inaugural title fight for the women’s 145 pound division and will kick off the brand new division for the foreseeable future. Minus one very important fighter – Cris Cyborg. Holly Holm’s coming off consecutive losses for the 1st time in her career, while De Ramdamie’s riding a 2 fight win streak with both by knockout. It’s a little bit of an underwhelming title fight to kick off such a brand new division, but we must forge on. Holm has the experience and is battle tested in comparison to De Randamie, having only faced one elite fighter – current BW champion Amanda Nunes. That wasn’t much of a fight, so needless to say that Holm will be De Ramdamie’s biggest test to date in her UFC career. That’s all I got I guess. Shrug.
Germaine De Randamie is very much in the mold of Valentina Shevchenko, who defeated in Holly Holm’s last fight and essentially catapulted her onto the road to gathering a title shot. She’s got a strong Muay Thai base and prefers to counter-strike, but isn’t as quick or clean of a counter-striker as Shevchenko is. De Randamie also tries way more overhand rights than Valentina, which helped De Randamie get multiple finishes on her record. As is expected out of a skilled Muay Thai striker, De Randamie is proficient in clinch offense, with a very strong Thai clinch (or plum clinch/double collar tie, whichever one works for you) that can result in thunderous knees and allows her to control her opponents up the fence. That may come in handy when dealing against Holm’s stick and move striking style, cornering her and keeping her in one spot where De Randamie can go to work inside the clinch with dirty boxing, uppercuts, knees, and what have you.
Here’s my issue with the fight (and the odds). Holm has much more experience in dealing against elite strikers and just overall competition in general. She’s an excellent points fighter, knowing her distance and landing well-timed running flurries. Holm’s also got a great body attack repertoire and has good experience at defending against the Thai clinch. The reasons why Shevchenko was able to frustrate and consistently catch Holm on many strikes are simple. Shevchenko is just that elite of a counter-striker, and Holm couldn’t sit back against Valentina and expect to win the fight which played right into Shevchenko’s gameplan. Can the same be expected out of De Randamie? I don’t think so, as she’s too reliant on the overhand and seems to back up too much against pressure. Holm can find her range and keep attacking with the jabs and low/side kicks, forcing De Randamie to come at Holm more than she’d like. That plays into Holm’s hands (literally), and unless Holm inexplicably keeps doing the running flurries into De Randamie’s overhands – I don’t see Holm losing a 5 round fight to a less technical striker. Then again, De Randamie is pretty brutal in the clinch and maybe she’s continually improved over time enough to match Shevchenko’s speed and reaction time. I’m sticking to what I’ve seen and know from Holm, believing in whatever gameplan Greg Jackson whips up for the former champ. Some scoring tidbits – I don’t expect a barrage of significant strikes by either fighter, as they can be tentative at times and end up waiting for the other to ignite striking exchanges. A De Randamie finish may be possible but that’d be really surprising to me.