Overall I would class UFC 208 as disappointing. Both the main and co-main fights were reasonably uneventful with very little significant strikes being landed. Also both of these fights were ended in controversy with Brunson, the seemingly stronger opponent, losing out to Silva. This is bad for his fight record but it also means he didn’t secure a win bonus for a fight he should have won. In the main event the new women’s feather weight champion de Randamie landed a total of 4 strikes that were after the bell between the second and third round with no point deduction. One of these strikes clearly rocked Holm and may have made a difference in the fight. I have described three fights, the first being in the middle weight division between Souza and Boetsch, the second also coming from the middle weight division between Brunson and Silva and finally the title fight in the women’s feather weight division between de Randamie and Holm.
Jacare Souza (3) vs Tim Boetsch (12)
Boetsch earned an opportunity to fight Souza, a former strike force champion, after coming off of a confident 2 wins in November and July of 2016. The bookies and many others heavily leaned towards Souza because of his notorious ground game, which stood to him in the first round in this fight.
Boetsch entered the fight attempting to keep his distance, trying to utilise his striking abilities and his 2 inch reach advantage. Boetsch also used his naturally low arms to successfully defend Souza’s first takedown attempt with a great effort in the sprawl. However Souza used exceptional timing to catch one of Boetsch’s leg kicks with only two and a half minutes gone in the fight to successfully bring him to ground. Souza’s incredible jiu jitsu abilities are lethal at these early stages of the match on the ground as neither of the fighters would have sweated enough to hinder any kind of friction, which Souza inevitably utilised to isolate an arm and finish by submission.
That fight makes it two performance of the nights in a row for the Brazilian, once again proving his class. Souza is making it increasingly difficult for the UFC to not give him a title fight and I’m sure he is eager, as we all are, to see the outcome of the Bisping and Romero title fight Dana has promised. It will be interesting to see what top middle weight Souza will fight next as he said if the title fight isn’t and option he wants to continue to be active.
Anderson Silva (7) vs Derek Brunson (8)
In the lead up to this co-main event there was a lot of respect shown between the two fighters. Brunson commented on how when he began fighting professionally that Silva was an idol for him. With an 11 year difference between their professional MMA debuts, Silva definitely had the experience nearing his 42nd birthday.
It was clear Brunson showed Silva the respect from the outset as he held back throughout the fight unlike his most recent loss against Whittaker. Both fighters were willing to hold back and be patient. Silva is known to be a master counter striker and as we have seen before he is willing to hold off to the crowds distaste. Silva continued to be patient throughout the first round breaking at opportunities. Towards the end of the first round both fighters began opening up landing punches, especially in the clinch for Brunson. Throughout the first round Brunson attempted and was unsuccessful in all three of his takedown attempts.
In the second round there again was no game changing strikes exchanged, with both fighters connecting on occasions. Silva became increasingly confident with his signature head and arm movements which was received well from the crowd, as support grew for the Brazilian. At the end of the second round Brunson’s corner had a greater sense of urgency telling the fighter to lead more and not show as much respect.
Brunson complied and began with much more aggressive strikes and take downs, only to be matched by the incredible skill of Silva in the sprawl and in countering. Similar to the first round Silva seemed to almost allow Brunson’s punches land in the clinch. Silva gained more confidence as the fight went on with his hands hanging low with both parties exchanging strikes. The fight ended with Brunson taking Silva to ground and having him in full mount. The fight was reasonably uneventful with both fighters having spells of dominance but in the end the fight went to a decision with Silva being controversially declared the winner with a unanimous decision.
Silva and Brunson were still showing great respect for each other even after the fight had finished. Silva could barely speak in an emotional octagon interview, telling Joe how his love for the sport and his supporters keep him driven to compete. It is refreshing to see a legend like Silva continuing to enjoy and compete at a high level in the sport, even following a string of losses and one no contest. However Brunson can only be disappointed with the outcome of the fight being scored by the judges as a unanimous decision despite his first and last rounds seeming stronger than Silva’s and it was clear from the response of UFC officials and the medias response that the majority would agree. It will be interesting to see how Brunson will respond in his next fight and who he will face following two losses in a row after his impressive five win streak.
Holly Home (2) vs Germaine de Randamie (10)
This title fight is the first of its kind in the newly created women’s feather weight division. In the past the UFC have come under fire due to health risks associated with fighters trying to make huge weight cuts, most notably Cyborg, one of the most talented UFC fighters on the current roster and undoubtedly a fighter who will look to earn a title fight when her time arises. Holm, a previous title holder, recently came out of two five round losses in succession and hoped to stake a claim for herself in the new division. De Randamie however has been impressing with a performance of the night in her last fight against Elmose, which showed how lethal she can be when the fight is not brought to ground.
De Randamie began the fight flat footed slowly walking Holm down, showing her preferred muay thai stance from the outset. Holm was definitely instigating the engagements as she threw both punches and kicks at speed. However de Randamie dominated head strikes with excellent counter punches with her right.
The second round was similar to the first regarding the style of the two fighters. Holm seemed to lead and generally be the more active fighter, but de Randamie was more clinical with the strikes she threw. Although Holm is known for her kickboxing she is also a trained wrestler and intended to bring the fight to ground if possible. Holm engaged in the clinch for long periods of time without much success, this allowed de Randamie to find angles to throw devastating knees to the body. The second round ended in huge controversy as de Randamie seemed to land one if not two punches after the bell rang which visibly shook Holm. The referee chose to not deduct a point and simply issue a warning to de Randamie.
Going into the third round de Randamie lead the head strike statistic landing 32 to Holms’ 4. Both fighters began throwing more kicks, Holm seeming to inflict more damage. The high tempo of Holm persisted leading to a clean kick to the head with seconds to go, but replicating what she did in the first round, de Randamie again threw two late punches after the bell had rang. Controversially the ref again issued de Randamie a warning without any point deduction. This is not only showed a great deal of unsportsmanlike conduct but is also dangerous considering the clean strikes a person can land when an opponent doesn’t defend herself.
The impression I got from the fourth round was that Holm was in auto pilot, all of her combinations seemed like replicas of the lasts. Asides from her robotic combinations she was again unsuccessful in the clinch with de Randamie defending well with good use of under hooks as she had done throughout the fight.
In the fourth round Holm landed the most significant legal strike in the match with a big left hand resulting in de Randamie dropping to a knee. But again the momentum of the fight was severely slowed down in the clinch. Both Holm’s corner and the crowd were screaming at her to take it to the centre of the octagon and leave the clinch at these final stages, however she seemed intent on attempting to bring it to ground. The referee for the last time the bell rang was in-between the two fighters before the bell had even rung.
The judges scored the fight as a unanimous decision to de Randamie making her the first women’s feather weight title holder. This again was a controversial win because of those possibly four late strikes in the second and third round. Holm disagreed with de Randamie’s octagon explanation and believed they were intentional strikes. This fight signified the beginning of the women’s feather weight division and when the obvious contender cyborg was brought to de Randamie’s attention in the octagon she seemed evasive saying she would like the fight everyone and that surgery on her hand is her priority.