UFC 208 is in the books and it was far from UFC’s best night.
Three months after UFC put on one of their biggest and best shows ever in their debut in the New York City market, they returned for what was a mediocre but promising card on paper that turned out to be dreadful in execution.
There was plenty of criticism of the announced main event of Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie for the newly created Women’s Featherweight Championship, but there was a good possibility it was going to be a good fight. That didn’t turn out to be the case, as the two put on a boring, five-round decision that took place in the clinch against the cage for much of the fight and with the biggest strikes that landed occurring after the horn sounded to indicate the end of the second and third rounds.
The fight was close, with de Randamie winning 48-47 on all three judges scorecards to win the championship. De Randamie landed 80 significant strikes to Holm’s 77, but with Holm having control against the cage for 8 of the 25 minutes as opposed to her opponent’s 45 seconds of control. Holm did little damage when in the clinch, but was the busier fighter, yet was often countered with big punches from de Randamie.
The biggest story of the fight was what happened between rounds. After both the second and third rounds, de Randamie landed punches that were clearly after the signal had sounded, and they were significant enough where it took Holm some time to recover. Holm was wobbling and off-balance and clearly rocked after the first illegal blow. The shots thrown likely had an effect on Holm’s performance going forward, but no point was taken away. De Randamie was only warned after the second infraction when she was told a third would result in a point deduction. Commentator Joe Rogan was infuriated by the decision not to deduct a point, arguing that it is the only course of action possible as the blows clearly influenced the outcome of the fight. Had a point have been taken away, the fight would have ended in a unanimous draw.
Each round was close. I had the fight 49-46 for Holm, giving her rounds 2 through 5. Scorecards among other media members on MMADecisions.com were split, with 13 awarding Holm the fight, and 9 giving it to de Randamie. The most popular scorecard among fans on the website was 48-47 for Holm, giving her rounds 3 through 5.
A draw may have been the most fitting result for the fight, as it would have given UFC a chance to abandon the division that seems to have everything working against it.
UFC President Dana White was critical of the event, and particularly critical of the refereeing in the main event, telling the FS1 post-fight show that referee Todd Anderson “shouldn’t have been in there,” but also reminding viewers that neither he nor the UFC makes those decisions.
Demonstrating the poor quality of the event, UFC only gave out bonuses to three fighters instead of the typical four. Dustin Poirier and Jim Miller opened up the pay-per-view with a Fight of the Night that saw Poirier win a decision, but was barely able to stand on his own two feet when it was done. The lone performance bonus went to Jacare Souza who made short work of Tim Boetsch, winning by kimura submission in the first round.
The rest of the main card saw Glover Teixeira rebound from a brutal knockout loss to Anthony Johnson to outwrestle Jared Cannonier to a lackluster decision and all-time great Anderson Silva win a puzzling and uninspired decision over Derek Brunson.
When commenting on the event as a whole, White was honest, but uncharacteristically tempered in his response. “Not one of our better events,” he said.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: I agree with Dana. That show sucked. When you consider how random and difficult to control fighting can be, UFC has an excellent track record of putting on good shows more often than not. Every once in awhile you get a stinker; this was one of those nights.
I’m not sure where women’s 145 goes from here as Cyborg could be suspended for quite some time. She’s looking to get a retroactive therapeutic use exemption, but now de Randamie is saying she’s hurt and Cyborg looks to have distanced herself from the 145 weight limit. UFC may be best to pretend this fight and this division just didn’t happen and wait and see where the cards fall with Cyborg and de Randamie. If Holm doesn’t get a rematch relatively soon, I would expect her to go back to 135 as the extra 10 pounds didn’t seem to make her any better, and despite how the fight was promoted, didn’t have much trouble or issue with making the weight.
I have no answer for how they scored that fight for Anderson Silva. It’s one of the worst decisions I can think of for quite some time. I honestly thought they just had the names reversed, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The significant strikes totals were close enough in rounds 2 and 3 (10-9 Silva, and 25-25) but those numbers don’t always tell the story of the fight that seemed clear that Brunson won. The bright side is that it keeps Silva in the mix and you can justify a fight with a high-ranked fighter and even a title shot if that’s how things work out. I don’t like his chances with any of the top five fighters based on this performance, though.
Glover Teixeira might be a bit gun shy after getting knocked out badly last year as he relied on his grappling much more than normal and didn’t show the power he once had. He cited a shoulder injury, but I fear he may be on the decline and, while Daniel Cormier talked about potential fight between the two, Teixeira’s days as a top light-heavyweight may be over.
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Derek Brunson was complimentary of Silva after the fight, but critical of the judges. “Wow, unreal,” be wrote. “I put my heart and soul out there on three weeks notice only to get it taken from me. I just outclassed the greatest of all time.”
-Germaine de Randamie was apologetic after the fight for hitting Holly Holm after the bell. Holm didn’t seem accepting, though, telling media afterward that she felt the shots were intentional and that they were the “hardest shots I felt the whole fight.”
-Dana White said that he scored the Silva-Brunson fight for Brunson with the fight even heading into the third round.
-Anderson Silva affirmed at the post-fight press conference that he is not retiring. “I just wait for my next challenge inside the cage,” he said. “But for now I need to rest a little bit. I’m old.”
-UFC 208 drew a reported sell-out of 15,628 fans for a live gate of $2.275 million.
FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUND-UP…
-Rose Namajunas vs. Michelle Waterson at UFC on Fox on April 15 from Kansas City, Mo. Also announced for the same show were Tim Elliott vs. Louis Smolka, Devin Clark vs. Jake Collier, and Anthony Smith vs. Andrew Sanchez.
-Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov will headline a UFC Fight Night from Nashville on April 22. Also announced for the card were Al Iaquinta vs. Diego Sanchez, Thales Leites vs. Sam Alvey, Dustin Ortiz vs. Brandon Moreno, Jessica Penne vs. Danielle Taylor, Hector Sandoval vs. Matt Schnell, and Scott Holtzman vs. Michael McBride.
-Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway to unify the Featherweight Championship was made official for UFC 212 from Rio on June 3.
PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO…
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: SATURDAY NEWS DIGEST 2/11: Brunson compares tonight opponent Anderson Silva to Urijah Hall, Dana talks about GSP (w/Cervantes Analysis)
(Jonathan Cervantes has been an avid fan of MMA since 2009 when he saw GSP vs. B.J. Penn 2. He has practiced tae kwon do, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling in the past and is currently a student majoring in entrepreneurship at the University of San Francisco. He writes the MMATorch News Digest on Fridays and Saturdays. Michael Hiscoe writes MMATorch News Digests Sunday through Thursday each week.)