UFC 208 PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview of Holm vs. de Randamie, Anderson Silva vs. Brunson, Teixeira, Souza, Porier

By Mathew Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

UFC 208: Holm vs. de Randamie Primer – Matthew Ecochard

The first PPV of 2017 takes place with a new division headlining the card when Holly Holm faces off against Germaine de Randamie for the inaugural UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship. The co-main event has Anderson Silva taking on highly dangerous contender Derek Brunson, followed by a plethora of interesting and fun fights in Brooklyn, N.Y. Previews and predictions for the entire card follow, starting with the UFC Fight Pass early prelims:

UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims

Rick Glenn (18-3-1) vs, Phillipe Nover (12-7-1) – Featherweight Bout

Rick Glenn is attempting to get his first UFC victory after a tough initial outing against Evan Dunham. The furious pace of Dunham and advanced striking made it hard for Glenn to get going, but he has a much better chance to show off his skills this time against Phillipe Nover. There is no secret to Nover’s game-plan, wrestle and attempt to use his BJJ to make it a quick night of work for Glenn. Savvy off of his back, Glenn is no slouch anywhere in mixed martial arts and he should have way more to offer on the feet to keep Nover busy. Nover is hard to finish so look for a decision win.

Prediction: Rick Glenn via Unanimous Decision

Ryan LaFlare (12-1) vs. Roan Carneiro (21-10) – Welterweight Bout

Roan Carneiro is a serious black belt in the realm of BJJ, but he hasn’t quite been able to amplify other aspects of his game to the same level. Sandwiching a loss to Derek Brunson, Carneiro is 2-1 so far since coming to the UFC in February of 2015, last beating Kenny Robertson. Ryan LaFlare is everything Robertson is, but better and should prove to be a rough challenge for Carneiro. LaFlare is 5-1 in the UFC with his lone loss coming from Demian Maia via unanimous decision. LaFlare is grinding fighter that doesn’t pull off the gas to deplete his opponents’ tank. LaFlare didn’t get submitted by Maia so he shouldn’t feel too threatened here.

Prediction: Ryan LaFlare via Unanimous Decision

Marcin Tybura (14-2) vs. Justin Willis (4-1) – Heavyweight Bout

A short notice replacement, Justin Willis will have his work cut out for him with a large step up in competition when he takes on Marcin Tybura in his UFC debut. Justin Willis lost his MMA debut in 2012, but took a couple years off and has a four fight winning streak going with three of those stemming from knockout. Willis will have a weight and reach advantage coming into this bout which might be his biggest aid. Marcin Tybura is by far more experienced and has the edge on the ground for sure against Willis. Tybura should be better just about anywhere the fight takes place, but Willis will always have a puncher’s chance. Without having much to go off of with Willis and it being short notice for him, the safe bet is to go with Tybura.

Prediction: Marcin Tybura via Submission Round 1

Fox Sports 1 Prelims

Ian McCall (13-5-1) vs. Jarred Brooks (11-0) – Flyweight Bout

Jarred Brooks will be taking on Ian McCall on short notice to make his UFC debut. Brooks is a huge prospect in the flyweight division and has been tearing apart others all over the world, recently fighting in Japan. He has very good striking and tends end fights with submissions, but after rocking his opposition with hard shots on the feet. Ian McCall has had really rough luck with getting an opponent and actually getting to fight night. McCall was scheduled to fight Dustin Ortiz, Justin Scoggins, Ray Borg and Neil Seery in the last year and a half with all of those fights not coming to fruition for one reason or another. McCall is really almost as complete as you can be as a fighter, only losing to John Lineker, Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez in the UFC. Jarred Brooks will come in hungry and he hasn’t lost yet, but it is hard to see a fighter with a lot still to prove taking out the veteran Ian McCall.

Prediction: Ian McCall via Unanimous Decision

Nik Lentz (29-7-2, 1 NC) vs. Islam Makhachev (13-1) – Lightweight Bout

Nik Lentz is getting a tough stylistic match-up with the Sambo-based Islam Makhachev. Lentz is a grinding, top game wrestler that will never let up. Struggling with striking and other aspects, he normally can rely just on his wrestling and scrapiness to get himself through. Makhachev is a multiple time Sambo champion with different organizations and has proven to have strong submission skills as well. Two dominate UFC performances have shown his real strengths, but he faltered with a slick KO shot from Adriano Martins in the first round of their bout. Two different styles of grappling will be clashing and whoever can impose their will, will surely be the winning fighter on Saturday night.

Prediction: Islam Makhachev via Split Decision

(#5) Wilson Reis (21-6) vs. Ulka Sasaki (19-3-2) – Flyweight Bout

Wilson Reis receives an unranked opponent for the second fight in a row when he takes on Ulka Sasaki. Reis should be the heavy favorite here as he will be the far superior grappler and BJJ fighter and he will look to take the fight to the ground as soon as possible. Ulka Sasaki was just 1-2 in the UFC at bantamweight, but he made his flyweight debut in his last bout and looked very sharp. At 5’10” Sasaki has an incredible frame for the division, as both his height and reach advantage will be six inches over Reis. If Sasaki can stop the takedowns of Reis he will definitely make it a tough fight for him, but it seems far more likely Reis will take the fight into his area of expertise.

Prediction: Wilson Reis via Submission Round 1

Randy Brown (9-1) vs. Belal Muhammad (10-2) – Welterweight Bout

New York native Randy Brown will be taking his fifth UFC fight after fighting four times last year and going 3-1 in that span. He was found on Dana White’s Looking for a Fight series. Striking is his best area, but he has good enough jiu-jitsu skills that he can finish off fighters if they present him with an opening. His skills are still improving as he is only 26 years young, but with his tall frame and really lengthy reach, he could be a star someday. Belal Muhammad is taking the bout on short notice and is looking to get back on track after a really quick KO loss to Vicente Luque at UFC 205. Muhammad’s striking is normally really fun to watch, he just got caught early in that bout, but the size differential here will cause headaches for him. If Muhammad can’t close the distance, it doesn’t look good for him.

Prediction: Randy Brown via TKO Round 2

PPV Main Card

(#10) Dustin Poirier (20-5) vs. Jim Miller (29-8, 1 NC) – Lightweight Bout

After a shocking defeat against Michael Johnson, Dustin Poirier needs to rebuild himself again at lightweight. Poirer was looking like a new man at 155 lbs going 4-0 and demolishing every fighter placed in his path, his chin appeared to be back to full health and he could trade and land the harder shots. Johnson surprised him with his style of stand-up and took the fight to Poirer first. The ground game is almost as good as his striking and he should be able to hang with Miller anywhere he wants to go. Jim Miller is still a solid fighter, he might not be as good as he once was, but he is good enough to be on a three fight win streak. Miller’s best chance is to take the fight to the ground and put a beating on Poirer there. There are more weapons in Poirier’s arsenal and I would be surprised if Miller could just take out Poirer and finish him off.

Prediction: Dustin Poirer via Unanimous Decision

(#3) Glover Teixeira (25-5) vs. (#15) Jared Cannonier (9-1) – Light Heavyweight Bout

Glover Teixeira is getting his lowest ranked opponent since he fought James Te-Huna in 2013 and is taking an enormous risk in doing so. A win here doesn’t do a whole lot for Teixeira, but a loss is devastating and puts him back down the ladder and further away from another title shot. Teixeira’s best weapon is his monstrous knockout power, but he also has the majority of his wins via submission that allows him to be a finisher on multiple levels. His chin is suspect, but he was only actually finished by Anthony Johnson which is nothing to scoff at. Jared Cannonier looked so much better at light heavyweight than he did at heavyweight. His hands are strong, he can wrestle, clinch and submit his opponents and is a hard stylistic match-up for Teixeira. Teixeira has only lost to top 10 competition and it is hard to gauge where Cannonier is at right now. The safe bet is Teixeira ending the bout at some point.

Prediction: Glover Teixeira via TKO Round 2

(#3) Ronaldo Souza (23-4, 1 NC) vs. (#13) Tim Boetsch (20-10) – Middleweight Bout

  Ronaldo Souza is taking yet another bout instead of fighting for the championship match he deserves. Since joining the UFC he has gone 6-1, with his loss being controversial to Yoel Romero, a loss that the majority of media scored for him or at the very least a draw. Souza’s skills are terrifying, as his submission skills are some of the best in any division. The striking of Souza has gotten considerably better over the last three years as he has hurt almost every opponent he has faced while on the feet. Tim Boetsch is getting the chance of a lifetime to catapult himself into contention with a win here. Sadly there is just very little chance of him winning here and the betting spread should be one of the largest of the night here. Boetsch has some good striking particularly in the clinch and good wrestling, but just instead incredibly strong in anyone area. Souza would be smart to just takedown Boetsch and submit him as he has shown to be vulnerable on the ground.

Prediction: Ronaldo Souza via Submission Round 1

(#7) Anderson Silva (33-8, 1 NC) vs. (#8) Derek Brunson (16-4) – Middleweight Bout

Anderson Silva isn’t the same man he was as champion. I wouldn’t say that he is a shell of his former self, but he has officially gone 0-4 and 1 NC since 2013. The one loss to Chris Weidman was his leg injury, his win over Nick Diaz was overturned to a NC, he lost to Michael Bisping, but the fight could’ve been stopped when Silva almost knocked him out. The last bout Silva lost was to a way over-sized opponent in Daniel Cormier, and Silva even had very mild success with a body kick that hurt Cormier. So to say Silva is so far gone isn’t completely correct to say, but he definitely needs an impressive win here to prove he still has what it takes. Anderson Silva is the king of Muay Thai and the vast majority of his title defenses are very exciting to watch. He needs to keep his distance, stuff takedowns and work his striking in order to stop Derek Brunson.

Derek Brunson had a five fight win streak snapped when he ran into the improving Robert Whittaker. Brunson has gotten very punch-drunk lately and because he has power in his hands is willing to stand and trade, but his technique isn’t that crisp and gets pretty reckless. His wrestling could be his biggest asset when facing Silva, so he needs to go back to it and not get caught into standing and trading. Brunson’s chin has been tested quite a bit and while he can take a shot, his chin isn’t one of the greatest of all time. This bout should be really interesting and while it isn’t a confident pick, Silva’s defense should be able to stop Brunson’s takedowns. Silva is so much sharper on the feet and should dodge Brunson’s attacks. The fight is entertaining while it lasts, but Silva gets it done.

Prediction: Anderson Silva via KO Round 2

Holly Holm (10-2) vs. Germaine de Randamie (6-3) – Women’s Featherweight Championship Main Event (5 Rounds)

A new women’s division is being created in Brooklyn, NY and it will be missing it’s star fighter. While Cris Cyborg is on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, the featherweight division will be built without her. Kickboxer turned MMA fighter Holly Holm will look to rebound and become a two division champion by defeating the dangerous striker Germaine de Randamie. The bout should primarily be a striking affair but both women have a decent amount to offer and the fight should be a competitive one.

Holly Holm really got the attention of the fight community when she scored a surprisingly dominant victory against then undefeated champion Ronda Rousey. Her takedown defense and ability to get off her back were on point, but her technical striking and her power were on point and completely destroyed Rousey. Since that fight she has lost two in a row to Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko. Moving up in weight should help Holm as she seemed rather large for bantamweight, and if he conditioning improves even more, she may be more aggressive earlier on.

A real brutal Muay Thai striker, Germaine de Randamie isn’t called “the iron lady” for no reason. A multiple time kickboxing and Muay Thai champion, Randamie is no slouch on the feet and has brutal knees that she showed off in her win against Anna Elmose. Her only UFC loss has come to Amanda Nunes, but her wins have come against struggling UFC competition so it is hard to judge where her skills are at. The stylistic match-up here might slightly favor de Randamie, but Holly Holm will come out looking sharper, stronger and searching for a finish. Holm knows she needs to impress here to stay relevant and not just be a one trick pony. Watch for a tentative first round from these ladies and fireworks in the second and possibly third.

Prediction: Holly Holm via TKO Round 3

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