The UFC will usher in a new era when Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie square off to see who will be the inaugural women’s featherweight champion. Both Holm and de Randamie are accomplished strikers in their respective fields and bettors should be expecting a standup war between the two ladies.
The co-main event will see the legendary Anderson Silva looking for his first win in over four years when he takes on up-and-coming knockout artist Derek Brunson. The entire main card is filled with plenty of fun fighters but, to be perfectly honest, there are plenty of odd matchmaking decisions at UFC 208.
Holly Holm vs Germaine de Randamie
The most impressive aspect of Holly Holm’s game is her ability to dictate the pace and distance of the fight. Holm has translated her years of world-class boxing into a style that makes it extremely difficult to get inside her reach and do damage. On the rare occasion that an opponent has been able to breach her reach, she has great foot speed and head movement to get out of the danger zone.
“The Preacher’s Daughter” is largely a counter-striker aside from her range-dictating kicks. Holm will work a quick pace and throw plenty of strikes, but she’s at her best when her opponent rushes her and she can throw her left hand. The one downside to Holm’s striking game is her lack of power. The only KO she has in the UFC was against Ronda Rousey and that was due to a kick; Rousey walked through plenty of punches that could have put her down.
Holm can handle herself in the clinch, though she would prefer to break away and find her range once more. Her defensive wrestling plus her long range make it hard to take her down, but mat fighting is clearly her weak point.
Germaine de Randamie is a technical marvel in the striking game, as “The Iron Lady” has proven with her multiple world Muay Thai championships. Like Holm, de Randamie likes to find her range but she then will aggressively move forward behind her strikes. De Randamie is just incredibly efficient and technical sound on the feet.
The clinch is also lethal for de Randamie, as her height and her Muay Thai experience make her a handful for her opponent. There is no doubt that her knees are plenty capable of leveling her opponent and de Randamie can fit them into awkward spaces.
Much like Holm, de Randamie offers very little on the ground, especially from her back.
This fight is weird and wonderful all at the same time. The matchmaking is simply bizarre but features two fighters who are masters of their crafts. Both women have paths to victory, but I’m giving Holm the slightest of edges. I prefer her experience against better fighters and I believe Holm has an advantage in the wrestling department.
Prediction: Holly Holm (EVEN)
Anderson Silva vs Derek Brunson
It has been over three years since Anderson Silva won a fight. This is the last chance for “The Spider” to prove he still belongs anywhere near a top-10 opponent. Silva still flashes the skills that made him the most dominant champion in UFC history, especially when he starts getting on a roll with his inventive striking. The biggest leftover from his previous dominance is his footwork, as actually hitting Silva is near impossible with his unique movement and angles. This is probably a good thing because Silva’s chin has been severely deteriorated thanks to Father Time.
Silva can still get things done in the clinch, but he hasn’t been great in his last several fights as his natural strength is failing due to his age. Though solid in bursts on the mat, Silva is more about holding his opponent and looking to get the fight standing at this point of his career.
Originally a wrestler – he was a Division II all-American in college – Derek Brunson has developed into one of the most lethal knockout artists at middleweight. He has power in his hands and his last four wins have come via first-round KO. The striking game is still built more on athleticism and aggression, which has left him vulnerable to counter-strikes in the past.
The wrestling game is still there for Brunson as a security blanket and he will work diligently for a takedown if he gets his opponent on the fence. The Wilmington native is a thumper on the ground, as he can land massive shots once he postures up. He also fights heavy and makes sure to not get himself out of dominant position once on top.
It’s now or never for Silva and I truly believe his time is over. He still has flashes of excellence but his chin is wavering and he doesn’t have the cardio he used to. Brunson leaves himself open to being countered, but I don’t know if Silva has the power in his hands anymore to make his opponent pay for his mistake.
Prediction: Derek Brunson (-150)
Jacare Souza vs Tim Boetsch
Jacare’s ground game and Brazilian jiu-jitsu is among the best in the world of MMA. That’s not to say his striking game is bad, unlike early in his career, as Jacare has developed an above-average, pressure-based striking game to complement his groundwork. When the fight is on the feet, Jacare will likely try to get it to the cage where he can use his grappling abilities.
If Jacare gets top control, you better start praying because he is aggressive and lethal. He passes guard with ease and will work for submissions behind some big ground and pound. Jacare has tapped some incredibly talented submission guys before and Tim Boetsch is from an accomplished grappler.
Boetsch is a beast of a man who uses his physicality to defeat his opponents. His natural strength comes through his hands, as “The Barbarian” loves to push forward until he scopes out his range. At that point, Boetsch will start throwing heavy combinations until his opponent is out cold.
If Boetsch can get on top of his opponent, then he will violently drop his cement hands on his opponent. However, if he is on his back, Boetsch is out of his element and is basically a sitting duck.
Can Boetsch land the big shot? Sure. Can he stop Jacare from taking him down and ripping through him on the mat? No.
Prediction: Jacare Souza (-550)
Glover Teixeira vs Jared Cannonier
Glover Teixeira is a finisher. Despite being often overlooked by many, Teixeira is 7-3 in the UFC with six of those victories coming via stoppage. Teixeira’s greatest ability is to use his boxing ability and clinch work to grind up his opponent to properly set up his power punches. This will likely be key against Jared Cannonier, who uses his reach well in the striking game.
Teixeira is a good wrestler and his best path to victory is taking Cannonier down. Once Tex gets top control, he is able to swiftly pass guard and start throwing some vicious ground and pound. He also has underrated submission skills and can isolate an opponent’s neck or grab hold of a guillotine in a scramble.
Though still a relative newcomer to the UFC, Cannonier has flashed some great striking skills. He is a fast, stick-and-move type of striker who does well at utilizing his 77” reach. Boxing is the bread and butter of the “Killa Gorilla,” but he does mix in some leg kicks for variety.
Cannonier’s biggest issue is wrestling. He is simply not good when it comes to defensive wrestling and can’t really stop the fight from reaching the mat aside from keeping his opponent at range. He is active on the ground and will always attempt to get back to his feet, but it’s more brute strength than technique.
I truly believe Cannonier has a bright future, but fighting the likes of Cyril Asker and Ion Cutelaba compared with Teixeira is completely different. Tex will certainly get tagged a few times, but that’s never stopped him before. Expect Teixeira to eventually get Cannonier on the ground and dominate.
Prediction: Glover Teixeira (-225)
Dustin Poirier vs Jim Miller
Poirier has found renewed life since rejoining the lightweight division, as he is 4-1 with three first-round knockouts. “The Diamond” is primarily a striker first, but it is some of the crispest striking around. He has a knack for knowing when to pick his spots, only throwing huge combos when he sees an Sportsbook. Poirier does do his best work when in close when he can make the fight dirty. However, he does leave himself open to a big shot on occasion.
“The Diamond” is athletic and pairs that with a natural balance to create some above-average takedown defense. When an opponent does get locked onto Poirier, he has effective chain grappling to put himself in the best position to get the fight where he wants it.
Miller is a former collegiate wrestler who holds a black belt in BJJ, which makes him extremely dangerous on the mat. If the fight gets to the ground, either from Miller’s own volition or his mediocre-at-best defensive wrestling, he will constantly angle for submissions. No matter on top or bottom, his versatility in the submission game is some of the best.
However, Miller has no problem standing and banging with his opponent – though sometimes this can be to his own detriment. Though he is more of a pressure-based striker, Miller has been refining his technical acumen and it has been showing.
Miller can win this fight and I think his line is inflated, which could provide some intrigue for bettors. However, I see this being Poirier’s fight. “The Diamond” is a better striker and his wrestling is good enough to make sure Miller can’t bring the fight to the mat.
Prediction: Dustin Poirier (-450)