UFC 208 PREVIEW: Grocke’s Preview & Predictions for Holm vs. de Randamie, Anderson Silva vs. Brunson, Souza vs. Boetsch

By Michael Grocke, MMATorch contributor

The UFC makes its way to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for UFC 208. Holly Holm takes on Germaine de Randamie for the new women’s featherweight division title. The co-main event features the return of Anderson Silva. He’ll step into the cage against fellow top 10 contender Derek Brunson.

The five-fight main card rounds out with Jacare Souza taking on Tim Boetsch in the middleweight division, Glover Teixeira goes up against Jared Cannonier in a battle of light heavyweights, and in the lightweight division Dustin Poirier faces off against Jim Miller.

The early prelims will air on Fight Pass starting at 5:30 p.m. CT, with Fox Sports 1 taking over at 7 p.m. CT for the prelims. The main card airs on PPV beginning at 9 p.m. CT.

Main Card 

Holly Holm (10-2) vs. Germaine de Randamie (6-3) – Featherweight 145 lbs.

Current Odds: de Randamie -135; Holm +105

Holly Holm was on quite the tear winning ten straight fights, including being the one to “break” Ronda Rousey. After handing Rousey the first loss of her career and winning the bantamweight title, she dropped it to Miesha Tate on her very first title defense. Holm was up on all the judge’s scorecards until she got caught in a rear naked choke and went to sleep with 1:30 left in the fight. Holly followed up that loss with a lackluster performance against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC on FOX 20, dropping a decision and earning her second straight loss.

After losing to Amanda Nunes at UFC Fight Night 31, Germaine de Randamie has rattled off two straight wins. Both wins were by knockout; first, Larissa Pacheco at UFC 185 and then Anna Elmose at UFC Fight Night 87.

Holly Holm’s striking and footwork is as good as it gets and will de Randamie’s biggest challenge. This is going to be an excellent fight and one that I can see going either way. I think if Germaine sits back and is patient, her chances of winning increase. However, if she pressures and tries to continuously close distance I think it’s going to be a long night for her. I also favor GDR’s chin over Holly’s. While Germaine won’t go away easily, I do expect Holm to return to form and win the title in a hard fought, very close fight.

Pick: Holm by decision 

Anderson Silva (33-8, 1 NC) vs. Derek Brunson (16-4) – Middleweight 185 lbs. 

Current Odds: Brunson -150; Silva +120

We all know what Anderson Silva means to the UFC and mixed martial arts. For me, he’s the greatest of all time. We also know there comes a time when an athlete just isn’t the same one we want to remember. Silva hasn’t officially won a fight since he stopped Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153, and quite frankly hasn’t looked the same since losing to Chris Weidman.

Derek Brunson was on a five-fight winning streak until getting stopped by Robert Whitaker at UFC Fight Night 101. Four of the five wins during the streak were by first round knockouts. Brunson is clearly still a fighter on the rise with more going for him at this stage in his career compared to Silva. But, does that mean he beats “The Spider?”

Anderson Silva is one of the best counter-strikers in MMA history. If Derek Brunson learned anything from his last fight against Robert Whitaker, it’s don’t be too aggressive. If Brunson pressures and constantly tries to close distance I see Silva having great success with counter strikes. I can also see him landing a knockout punch. However, if Brunson is capable of showing patience and picking his spots I think he’ll have more success.

Brunson leaving Jackson-Wink is another reason I’m a bit hesitant to back him. Ultimately though I’m going to go with Derek Brunson, but I won’t be a bit surprised if the greatest of all-time pulls off the upset.

Pick: Brunson by TKO

Ronaldo Souza (23-4, 1 NC) vs. Tim Boetsch (20-10) – Middleweight 185 lbs. 

Current Odds: Souza -525; Boetsch +385

Jacare Souza enters his fight against Tim Boetsch with a future title shot on the line. With a win here’s he’s all but assured a fight against the winner the Michael Bisping vs. Yoel Romero title fight. While nothing has been made official the speculation is a May fight between the two. After losing a split decision to Yoel Romero at UFC 194; which many feel Souza won, myself not included, he returned at UFC 198 where he stopped Vitor Belfort in the first round.

Tim Boetsch is riding a two fight winning streak with his latest win coming against Rafael Natal at UFC 205. This is a big fight for Boetsch in his own right. A win against a number one contender would do wonders for his ranking and future potential fights. Like Souza, Boetsch possess a formidable ground game. The problem is by taking the fight to the ground it plays right into Jacare’s wheel house. Of Jacare’s 23 career wins, 16 were by submission.

If Tim is to have any chance of winning the fight he must keep it standing. I’m not saying the heavy-handed Boetsch doesn’t have a chance at pulling off the huge upset, after all it is a fight and anything can happen, but there’s a reason he’s almost a 4 to 1 underdog.

I’m not one to lay such heavy odds, so my recommendation would be on the rounds total under.

Pick: Souza by submission

Glover Teixeira (25-5) vs. Jared Cannonier (9-1) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs. 

Current Odds: Teixeira -210; Cannonier +165

Glover Teixeira was on a nice three fight winning streak until he got knocked out by Anthony Johnson in 13 seconds at UFC 202. Teixeira has fought the very best in the light heavyweight division.

Up and comer Jared Cannonier is primarily a boxer who very seldom, if ever looks for the takedown. The idea of the fight staying on the feet suits him just well. Cannonier is 2-0 since coming to the UFC and will be making a huge step up in competition when he steps into the cage against Teixeira.

Connonier is a very accurate striker with power. The problem is he’s facing a fighter with a ton of experience and more ways to win. Teixeira will look to take the fight to the ground whenever possible. Once there he will eventually get the submission. The only question I have is, how will Teixeira respond to his devastating loss to “Rumble?”

Pick: Teixeira by submission

Dustin Poirier (20-5) vs. Jim Miller (29-8, 1 NC) – Lightweight 155 lbs.

Current Odds: Poirier -450; Miller +340

Dustin Poirier was on a four fight winning streak until getting knocked out by Michael Johnson at UFC Fight Night 94. While Poirier is capable on the ground I think he’s going to do everything he can to keep the fight standing. He’s a high output striker with tremendous accuracy. If Poirier is successful in defending the takedown and avoiding the ground, he’ll win the fight inside the distance.

Long time UFC veteran Jim Miller enters the fight winning three straight. In his most recent fight he took a decision over Thiago Alves at UFC 205. Miller does everything well. He mixes up his offense keeping his opponents guessing. But its Jim Miller’s wrestling skills that gives him an advantage over Poirier. I see him trying to utilize his ground game early and often in an effort to get the fight to the mat where he can work his submissions.

This fight comes down to which fighter will be more successful in executing their game plan. My money is on Dustin Poirier.

Pick: Poirier by TKO

Prelims Quick Look

Brown over Muhammad

Reis over Sasaki

Makhachev over Lentz

McCall over Brooks

Tybura over Henrique

LaFlare over Carneiro

Glenn over Nover

Enjoy the fights!

NOW CHECK OUT OUR OTHER UFC 208 PREVIEW: UFC 208 PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview of Holm vs. de Randamie, Anderson Silva vs. Brunson, Teixeira, Souza, Porier

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