MMA Review: #592: UFC 208: Holm vs. de Randamie

-The first UFC PPV of 2017 and let’s be honest, it wasn’t exactly the best one on paper – the main event was just plain weird, a fight between Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie for the inaugural WFW title, with the spectre of Cyborg hanging over the whole thing, and some odd fights up and down the card. I was just hoping for a decent action card myself and I also hoped the whole thing was an outlier rather than a trend under the WME-IMG leadership.

UFC 208: Holm vs. de Randamie

Brooklyn, New York

-Your hosts are Jon Anik, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier. Not worth canning Goldie for in my opinion.

Lightweight Fight: Dustin Poirier vs Jim Miller

This was a bit of odd booking considering the usual winner vs. winner, loser vs. loser UFC style, as Miller was coming in riding a three-fight win streak while Poirier had been knocked out by Michael Johnson in his last outing, but hey, the fight seemed to make sense and sounded like a great fight on paper. My pick was Poirier as despite those three wins I still feel like Miller is way past his best at this point – it’s crazy to think he’s been in the UFC for almost a decade in fact.

First round begins and shit, Poirier has HAIR and looks totally different to how he did before. They circle around and Miller glances on a big left hand. Leg kick lands for Poirier. Nice combination lands for Miller and Poirier tries to return the favour but doesn’t land as cleanly. He does connect on a leg kick though. Long jab follows for Dustin. Takedown attempt from Miller but Poirier sprawls nicely to avoid and lands some punches on Miller before forcing him back into the fence. Sharp left hand lands for Poirier and then another breaks and he follows with a quick combo. Miller backs Poirier up again with some more strikes, but a counter left hand stings him. Another combination lands for Miller and backs Dustin right into the fence, but he circles out and lands some strikes of his own including a heavy left hand. This is a close round. Kick is caught by Poirier and he trips Miller down, but a reversal allows Miller to get Poirier down and he immediately transitions into back control with both hooks! That was awesome. He looks to work for the choke, but Poirier frees himself and spins over into Miller’s guard before letting him up to land a big flurry. Miller fires right back and it’s a FIREFIGHT, and that ends the round. Crowd go crazy for that. 10-9 Miller for me.

Second round and the fans are AMPED. Beautiful low kick lands early for Miller. They continue to exchange strikes and Miller buckles Poirier with another low kick. Nice left hand answers for Poirier. Front kick to the body follows. These guys are SWINGING. Miller seems to be getting the better of it, just about, but a big flurry from Poirier allows him to land a left that wobbles the veteran’s legs. He dives for a takedown, but Poirier uses a guillotine attempt to block it and then follows with another combination. Miller looks like he’s in trouble but he manages to survive, and he fires back but Poirier tags him again with another one-two. Poirier’s long jab is really effective when he uses it. Big shots from Poirier and he has Miller hurt again, but Jim fires right back as they continue to brawl. Poirier is landing some seriously heavy shots on him now though. Miller manages to circle out, but Poirier backs him into the fence again to deliver another flurry. Miller is hurt again, and this time he looks for the takedown, but Poirier defends it well again and lands some nasty elbows to the head. One minute to go and Poirier surprisingly decides to take Miller down, but he lets him up without really doing much. Miller is busted up. Good leg kick from Miller but Poirier tags him with another combination. Miller keeps firing back, but he’s eating much harder shots. Round ends on the feet. Clearly Poirier’s round, so 19-19 and it’s even going into the third.

Third round and Miller opens with a few decent strikes that peg Poirier back a little. Really good leg kick hurts Poirier again and he looks like he’s limping now. Another leg kick drops him but he pops right back up. Poirier’s in trouble here. He comes back with a left hand but it doesn’t land cleanly. Right hand forces Miller back though and he follows with the jab again. Another low kick hurts Poirier again but he’s gutting it out. Ankle pick from Poirier puts Miller on his back, and right away Miller looks for a triangle choke. Poirier avoids that and passes into half-guard, then has to work to keep Miller down when he attempts to stand. Another triangle attempt follows for Miller but Poirier postures free of that and lands a nice left hand from the top. Poirier continues to work from there and then he manages to take the back with one hook as Miller looks to stand. Scramble from Miller allows him up though and he forces Dustin into the fence. They exchange knees and Miller drops for a single leg, but Poirier stuffs it and winds up on top again inside Miller’s guard. Kimura attempt this time from Miller and he really wrenches on it, but Poirier defends it well and frees the arm, landing a brief flurry to end the round. 10-9 Poirier although it was close and I’d go 29-28 for him.

Judges have it 28-28 (?), 30-27 Poirier and 29-28 for Dustin Poirier to pick up a weird majority decision. Really odd scoring there; I don’t get how anyone could give Poirier all three rounds as he clearly lost the first, and 28-28 is ludicrous – I could maybe see a 29-29 draw with a 10-10 third, but 28-28 means Poirier likely got a 10-8 second round and supposedly lost the first and third! Who knows really. At least the right guy won in the end. Fight was awesome too as both guys came out with some wild aggression and really went for it, and in the end surprisingly enough it was Poirier’s grappling game that won it for him in the third round. Miller didn’t look at all shot though which leads me to believe him when he says his dodgy performances over the past couple of years all stemmed from Lyme disease. I look forward to seeing both fight again.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Glover Teixeira vs Jared Cannonier

With 205lbs being horribly thin on talent right now – and it’s apparently about to get thinner with WME ridiculously allowing both Ryan Bader and Misha Cirkunov to walk away – I guess UFC were desperate to push some new talent up the ladder, hence Cannonier – after one lone win at the weight – being pushed up the ladder way too quickly to face perennial top five contender Teixeira. Despite Cannonier being an interesting prospect I couldn’t see any way for him to beat Glover unless the Rumble Johnson knockout had totally ruined the Brazilian.

Round One and they circle, as the Brazilian fan contingent are LOUD telling Cannonier he’s going to die. Right hand into a left hook land for Glover. Cannonier is staying way on the outside here. Right hand lands again for Teixeira and he’s beating Cannonier to the punch. Single leg attempt follows and he easily gets Cannonier grounded. Teixeira immediately works to pass the guard and moves into half-guard for a second before a hip escape puts Cannonier back into full guard. Nice move back to half-guard from Teixeira and he begins to feed Cannonier some short elbows. Guillotine attempt follows and Glover drops to guard to look for the finish, but Cannonier manages to roll onto his back in order to escape. Back to half-guard for Cannonier but Teixeira continues to land some elbows and then he looks to set up an arm triangle choke. Cannonier has done nothing thus far. Teixeira continues to work from the top and he drops some more elbows before looking to pass into full mount. Sure enough he takes mount with 40 seconds to go, and drops some heavy punches before Jared escapes into half-guard. Cannonier tries to scoot back to the fence and manages it, and from there he gets to his feet, separates with a knee and lands a big combo that stuns Glover! Glover is wobbled, but the round ends before Cannonier can follow it up. That last few seconds saved it from being a 10-8 for me, so 10-9 Teixeira it is.

Round Two and Cannonier pushes forward a little more now, probably riding on a bit of confidence after that last part of the first round. Sure enough he swings and lands with a glancing right hook and a jab. Single leg from Glover easily plants him on his back again though. Cannonier’s takedown defense is not good at all. Teixeira immediately moves into half-guard, where he tries to land with elbows. Cannonier avoids most of them and gets to full guard, but he’s still firmly losing this fight. Glover manages to turn him away from the fence, and continues to work with punches to the body. Back to half-guard for Glover and he looks to trap the right arm to deliver some more punches. Crowd are booing now and referee Kevin MacDonald calls a TERRIBLE stand-up despite Glover clearly advancing position. Rogan and Cormier are naturally DISGUSTED. Cannonier connects on a couple of punches and jabs, but Glover lands a couple of his own and neither man gains a massive advantage. Nice left to the body lands for Teixeira though right before the round ends. 10-9 Teixeira again.

Round Three and Glover swings some early shots that back Cannonier up somewhat. Incredibly easy single leg allows Teixeira to get Cannonier down again, and once more he steps right into half-guard. Announcers are trying to make a big deal of Cannonier’s stand-up work but outside of that one combo in the first he’s hardly done a thing. Glover works from the top again but somehow ends up cut, apparently from an elbow from the bottom. No matter though as he passes into full mount. Cannonier manages to push off the cage in an attempt to escape, but he gives his back instead and ends up having to roll back into full mount. Teixeira looks to work for the arm triangle again, but Cannonier does enough to defend and then hip escapes into half-guard. Teixeira continues to fish for the arm triangle, but he can’t get it and so he drops some elbows instead. Full mount again for Glover and again he looks for the arm triangle and then lands elbows when he can’t get it. Cannonier gets back to half-guard but eats more ground strikes and Teixeira is practically in mount again. Cannonier gives his back again but Glover has no hooks in, and the round ends with Cannonier standing in a rear waistlock. Crowd boo but it’s a clear-cut Glover Teixeira decision surely.

It’s a unanimous decision for Glover Teixeira; 30-26 all round. Story of the fight was that Cannonier could never really let his strikes go as he had no defense for Glover’s low single leg, and while Glover dominated him on the ground he never really came close to a finish, which made for a largely dull fight. Post-fight Teixeira sounds disappointed with the performance himself too. Back to the drawing board for Cannonier then – really he shouldn’t have been in this spot in the first place, and needs more seasoning against lesser fighters – while Teixeira could realistically get to another title shot with a couple more wins if Cormier holds onto the belt, as that’s at least a fresh fight. We shall see. This wasn’t great by any means though.

Middleweight Fight: Jacare Souza vs Tim Boetsch

Another bit of strange booking here, as Jacare had of course been set to face Luke Rockhold in November before Rockhold’s injury, and since then he’d been stuck on the shelf until his manager put out a spoof Craigslist ad to find an opponent and ended up with Boetsch, who’d admittedly won two fights in a row but who hadn’t been in proper contention in years. This seemed like a set-up fight to keep Jacare busy, and so despite Boetsch having a puncher’s chance the smart pick was Jacare via submission.

First round begins and Boetsch circles on the outside as Jacare stalks forward. Front kick to the body lands for Jacare. Good leg kick from Boetsch before Jacare shoots from way on the outside and Boetsch sprawls to defend. Uppercut lands for the Barbarian but Jacare’s got him in a clinch now and he connects on a hard right hook. They separate and Boetsch lands with a low kick, then another as they circle. Nice right to the body from Jacare and he follows with a body kick. Right hand from Boetsch wobbles the Brazilian for a second but he recovers quickly and lands to the body again. Beautiful takedown from Jacare off a caught leg kick and he immediately slides into side mount. Boetsch is in trouble as Jacare works from the top to soften him up with some short punches. Full mount from Jacare and he lands some more punches before locking up a kimura, and he immediately twists it right behind Boetsch’s back to force the tapout.

Fight was basically a squash as advertised, as Boetsch landed a couple of good shots on the feet before he was taken down and owned on the ground. Jacare is so good on the ground that he made it basically look effortless, like a black belt against a white belt when that clearly wasn’t the case. I still don’t see him getting a title shot though – Bisping vs. Romero isn’t even officially booked yet and it sounds like it’ll be in May/June time anyway which means Jacare probably takes another fight in the interim. Maybe they’ll do the Rockhold fight again, which is a tough one for the Brazilian for sure. Fun finish here but the fight was totally one-sided.

Middleweight Fight: Anderson Silva vs Derek Brunson

A late addition to this card, it felt weird more than anything to me to see Silva matched with someone like Brunson – not that Brunson is a bad fighter by any means, he’s a clear top ten guy right now, but you just expect a bigger name for Anderson, you know? At any rate, in his prime Silva would’ve eaten Brunson for breakfast but in 2017 coming off a streak of 0-4 with one no contest since 2013, I was worried that Brunson would crack his chin.

Fight begins and Silva stays completely still in the center of the cage as Brunson circles around. Low kick from Brunson is the only strike to land in the first minute. Right hand counter glances for Anderson. Another one follows as Brunson steps in looking to land. Silva starts to come forward, glancing with a combo and forcing Brunson back, but the younger fighter quickly goes for a takedown and forces Silva into the fence. Few uppercuts land from the clinch for Brunson and then they break off. Wild swings from both men and it looks like Brunson’s hurt for a split-second, but he recovers quickly. Right hand lands for Brunson and then he stuns Silva from the clinch with some hooks as Anderson looks for the plum. They separate though and Silva seems fine. Low kick lands for Brunson. Silva looks to close him down but Brunson outright runs away. Body kick lands for Silva and a spin kick glances to the head. Right hand sets up the plum, but Brunson again counters with some wild hooks and Silva looks rattled. Big uppercuts snap Anderson’s head back and he has to separate, but he misses a flying knee and winds up on his back. Round ends in Silva’s guard. 10-9 Brunson for me as he landed the best shots of the round from the clinch.

Into the 2nd and Brunson paws at the body with a right hand that misses. Takedown attempt from the outside but Anderson sprawls to avoid and stuffs it. Both men miss with some strikes, and they continue to look pretty tentative. Crowd seem pretty restless with the inactivity. Left hand connects for Brunson but Silva takes it well. Right hand lands for the former champion and he dodges some punches with some nice head movement. Spinning backfist into a body kick from Silva but Brunson ducks under and hits a takedown. Silva works immediately back to his feet though. Brunson stays right on him and tries to get him down again, but Anderson defends it well. They jockey for position and Silva lands a couple of short elbows to answer a few knees from Brunson. Brunson breaks with an uppercut but can’t land a follow-up combo. Takedown attempt again from Brunson but Anderson once again stuffs it. Silva breaks the clinch and we’ve got under a minute to go now. Flashing right hand backs Brunson up and then Anderson dances around before landing with a left high kick. Nice jab from Anderson. Another takedown is stuffed and Silva ends the round with a glancing right. Wasn’t vintage Silva but I’d give him the round at least.

Final round and Brunson gets on the offensive early on, but doesn’t land cleanly on Silva. Takedown attempt follows and he gets Anderson down, but Silva uses a whizzer to get to his feet and he lands a knee to the body and an uppercut to break off. Another takedown attempt is blocked by a sprawl from Silva, but Brunson drives him into the fence and keeps him there. Anderson manages to break off, and he lands with a hard right jab. Action gets a bit tentative again before Brunson dodges some strikes and then lands a hard right hand coming out of the clinch. Nice body kick from Silva and he’s backing Brunson up now. Takedown is stuffed by Anderson and then he grabs the plum, but takes another bunch of uppercuts and short punches that land cleanly for Brunson. They break off before Brunson lands some more punches from close range. Silva doesn’t seem to be getting hurt at all though. Spinning kick to the leg but Brunson claims a low blow and Silva pauses to let him recover. Takedown attempt again for Brunson and this time he gets Silva down properly, planting him in the center of the cage in guard. Brunson doesn’t do a lot from the top but he does keep Silva firmly grounded, landing a really nice hammer fist in the dying seconds. Round ends inside Silva’s guard and I’d go 10-9 Brunson, so 29-28 Brunson overall.

Judges score it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27……for ANDERSON SILVA. Do not get that call at ALL, sorry. I guess it wasn’t the worst robbery of all time as Brunson didn’t do all that much to win, but I mean, 30-27 is ludicrous. I guess the judges just got swayed by Silva’s reputation maybe? Who knows. Regardless, this wasn’t the best fight to watch – it looked like Brunson was tentative from the off probably due to a combination of Silva’s reputation and the fact that he suffered a bad KO last time out, and Silva at this point seems to struggle to pull the trigger, instead often waiting for the perfect shot that doesn’t always appear. The best shots in fact were landed by Brunson from the clinch as Silva tried to secure the plum – something that’s been a slight issue for Silva for a while and really came to the fore in the second Weidman fight. In all honesty I think Anderson ought to just retire – he has nothing left to prove – but the word is that he wants four or five more fights (!) so I guess we’ll be seeing more of him. I just hope he doesn’t turn into a Ken Shamrock figure who ends up damaging his legacy, you know?

UFC Women’s World Featherweight Title: Holly Holm vs Germaine de Randamie

So yeah, in late 2016 when the rumors of a Women’s Featherweight division started to pop up, it seemed to make sense – Cris Cyborg had drawn well in her two UFC appearances at a catchweight, so why not just bring her division aboard, push her as a star and have her defend against opponents-of-the-month, Mike Tyson style? Things naturally got weird though when Cyborg told the UFC she couldn’t make 145lbs on even eight weeks notice and then got popped for PEDs (again) and yet the UFC soldiered on with introducing the division, making Holly Holm – the former 135lbs champ, but coming off two losses in a row – against Germaine de Randamie – on a three-fight win streak but largely unknown – for the new title. I guess the idea was to get the title onto Holm and then hope Cyborg could avoid a long suspension via a retroactive TUE to challenge for the belt, but the whole thing seemed like a mess to me. As far as a pick? I was leaning towards Holm although part of me thought she was being a little overrated due to the Ronda Rousey win.

First round begins and Holm circles as GDR takes the center of the cage. Body kick lands for Germaine as Holly steps forward. Rushing combination misses for Holm. Few more strikes miss as Holm stays on her bike. Low kicks land for both women. Another right kick to the body lands for Germaine as Holm steps forward. Nice right hand connects for GDR as Holm steps into range again. Holm seems to be missing with the majority of her strikes thus far. Another clean right hand lands for Germaine. Leg kick replies for Holm. Holm comes forward again but walks right into a couple of hard counters from GDR. Every time she rushes in Holly is eating punches here. Nice leg kick does connect for the former champ though. Right hand counter lands for GDR as Holly tries a side kick. Clinch follows but GDR shrugs her off. Less than a minute to go and Holm tries a takedown, but GDR defends using a whizzer. They wind up clinched on the fence, and Holm tries to get her down with a single leg but can’t complete it. Round ends in the clinch. Clear round for Germaine as she landed the better strikes by far.

Second round and Holm opens with a left hand-low kick combo. High kick glances for de Randamie before she lands with a body kick. Holm’s strikes are almost all coming up short. Right hand counter lands for Germaine. Another one connects hard as Holm rushes forward. Decent one-two does land for Holly. Side kick to the thigh follows but another right hand counter lands for Germaine off a short combo from Holm. Beautiful right hand counter lands yet again for GDR. Body kick lands for Holm to end a flurry. Clinch from Holm and she lands with a knee to the body before forcing Germaine into the fence. Action slows down as GDR works to defend a possible takedown. Poor crowd are booing yet again now. GDR manages to spin her around to land a pair of knees to the body, and they exchange more knees with GDR landing the better ones. Holly manages to switch her off and force her back into the fence again, then goes for the takedown, but Germaine blocks. Nice knees to the body land for Germaine as Holm looks for the takedown again but still can’t get her down despite getting a rear waistlock at one point. They continue to jockey for position and the buzzer goes to end the round….but Germaine lands with a BRUTAL RIGHT HAND that badly wobbles Holm’s legs! Holy shit that was late. Crowd immediately boo like crazy as Holm looks rocked going into her corner, but the ref doesn’t even seem to warn GDR. Ridiculous as that shot was worse even than Jose Aldo on Chad Mendes in 2014 IIRC. 10-9 Germaine though and she’s up two rounds now.

Third round and Holm opens with a good combo but still takes another right hand counter. Combo ends in a body kick for Holm as de Randamie lands with a counter right. Head kick misses for Holly. Holm’s habit of constantly shouting with every strike is as annoying as the Williams sisters in tennis, for the record. Big counter right misses for GDR but she lands a leg kick instead. Winging right hand just misses for GDR. Takedown attempt is easily shrugged off by Germaine. Holm is throwing a bunch of kicks to little effect, but they are landing while Germaine hasn’t quite landed as many counters in this round. Good body kick does connect for her though. Sharp leg kick lands for Holm. They trade some more kicks before Holly gets the clinch again, and really works for the takedown but still can’t get it. Right elbow separates for de Randamie and she lands with a left hook as they break for a moment. Spinning elbow misses for Germaine to break but she does land with a right hand on the way out. Holm looks badly marked up now. Seconds to go in the round and a big head kick lands to the back of GDR’s head, and Holly follows with another one that glances, but de Randamie fires back with a flurry….that goes on WAY after the fucking buzzer AGAIN. And somehow referee Todd Anderson STILL DOESN’T TAKE A POINT! That’s insane, man. A tighter round there but I’d still lean very slightly to GDR, could’ve gone either way though.

Fourth round and Holm opens with some more kicks and a rushing combination that doesn’t land. Nice straight left from Holm leads into the clinch where she lands a hard knee. Looks like de Randamie might be getting slightly tired. Crowd boo the inaction from inside the clinch as Holm tries for the takedown, but doesn’t really come close to getting GDR to the ground. Ref separates them with three minutes to go, and GDR lands a low kick and then a right hand counter when Holm throws a low kick of her own. Beautiful inside leg kick connects for Germaine and she dodges a superman punch in response. De Randamie looks content to keep her on the end of her jab now rather than land those thudding counters. Couple of combinations glance for Holm. Big right hand misses for GDR but a low kick lands nicely. Holm responds with another clinch. She drops for the takedown again, but once again Germaine blocks. Action really slows down now as they muscle for position, and the crowd are really hating this. Takedown is blocked by GDR again and she lands a pair of knees to the body. Seconds to go and they break, and that’s the round as Holm circles out. Another close round; call it 10-10 in fact as neither woman really did enough to win it.

Fifth round and Holly opens with a combination but Germaine counters with a hard right into a low kick. Few strikes glance for Holm but a right hand lands cleaner for GDR. It’s basically Holm with the volume strikes glancing, but GDR landing cleaner shots but fewer of them. GDR closes in but a BIG LEFT from Holm drops her to a knee and suddenly she looks hurt! She pops back up and clinches though, holding on enough to recover. Nice left from Holm from the clinch and you can clearly see GDR holding on inside the clinch to try to get her wits back. Takedown attempt from Holm is still unsuccessful though. Holm does some decent work from the clinch but nothing too major, and the ref breaks them again. Leg kick from Holm lands but GDR counters with a right. Both girls are swinging a bit more now. Body kick lands for Holly. GDR swings into the clinch and the crowd begin to boo again. Action indeed slows down dramatically as they exchange some knees from close range. Crowd are hating this. Seconds remaining and GDR separates with a hard knee to the body. Nice counter combo lands for Germaine in the final exchange and this time the ref gets between them way before the buzzer, ha. 10-9 Holm, so I’d call it 49-47 for de Randamie overall.

Official scores are 48-47 all round for Germaine de Randamie, making her the first UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion. There’s a definite mixed reaction to that announcement – probably a combination of those late strikes making her look like a dirty fighter, and the fact that for the most part the fight was dull. Post-fight Joe Rogan asks her about the late strikes and she just puts them down to the heat of the moment and apologises, not really offering a proper explanation, and when Rogan attempts to set up the future meeting with Cyborg, she shrugs that off too, saying she needs hand surgery. Not exactly what you’d call a money promo.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and call this a disaster for the UFC, no offense to GDR or Holm. Firstly, although she’s clearly a skilled fighter, I don’t think GDR is going to be able to match Cyborg and so unless they can sort something with USADA and get the Cyborg fight done soon, essentially she’s a paper champion for the most part with the shadow of Cyborg always looming. If Cyborg does end up suspended then there’s basically no competition for her outside of a Holm rematch – and this fight sucked so it’s doubtful they do that – and that means bringing in basically an entire division from Invicta and likely putting the largely unknown Megan Anderson in there with GDR in a fight that won’t draw. So they’re stuck for now with a mostly unmarketable champ who has the reputation of a dirty fighter after this, and her top contender has a potential PED suspension hanging over her.

As for Holm, it’s looking more and more like her win over Ronda Rousey was just a case of her having the perfect style to combat Ronda; she just hasn’t looked anywhere near as dangerous since and it feels like she’s a volume striker who just doesn’t land all that many telling shots. She’s in dire need of a win next time out, that’s for sure. This was a bad main event to cap off a bad show.

-We end with some highlights and plugs for the upcoming shows.

Final Thoughts….

I’m not one to rag on shows but this was in my opinion the worst UFC PPV since 2014’s dull UFC 174. Miller/Poirier was excellent but outside of that, Jacare/Boetsch was a squash, Teixeira/Cannonier was largely dull, Silva/Brunson was dull and had a questionable decision and Holm/de Randamie was dull and had shit refereeing. It’s a show to avoid for sure, unfortunately. Two thumbs down.

Best Fight: Miller vs. Poirier
Worst Fight: Teixeira vs. Cannonier

Overall Rating: *

Until next time,

Scott Newman: