The UFC came to Brooklyn to create history in New York City for the second time. Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie fought with the inaugural women’s featherweight title on the line, and Holm had the opportunity to become the first woman to win titles in two weight classes.
Unfortunately a historic moment was marred by controversy. De Randamie landed shots after the bell in two rounds, the referee deciding not to dock a point for the illegal strikes.
“It was an accident to hit her after the bell, it was never intentional,” de Randamie said after the fight. “It was just the heat of the moment. I am not that kind of fighter.”
Holm wasn’t convinced that the blows were accidental.
“The second time you would think at that point they’d do something,” Holm said at the post-fight presser. “It wasn’t like the last punch of a combination when the bell rang. It was intentional and it was after the bell.
“Those were some of her best shots of the whole night, after the bell. I don’t know how the judges saw that. If they see that as points for her, then what can you do. I should’ve kept fighting too.”
Holm punctuated her night by declaring the bout “warrants a rematch."
Controversy was carried over into the co-main event, as Anderson Silva aimed to stop Derek Brunson and begin his march back towards the middleweight title. While Silva was the aggressor, Brunson landed far more strikes, particularly when Silva initiated the clinch. Brunson landed 118 of 184 strikes thrown, while Silva landed just 54 of 89.
Still, the judges scored the fight in favor of Silva, one judge even giving Silva the nod in all three rounds.
“Everyone is telling me that I won. I feel terrible,” Brunson said. "It’s not Anderson’s fault or the UFC’s fault. I took this fight on short notice and, to have this happen, is just crazy to me. I take this seriously. This is my job. I put everything into this and I got robbed. It sucks.”
What should’ve been a feel good moment for Silva—who was looking for his first win since 2012—is tarnished by the perception of poor judging.
Middleweight Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza has been on the outside looking in at the middleweight title picture. Instead of waiting for his turn at a title shot, Souza took on an unranked Tim Boetsch and locked in a first-round Kimura for the win.
Souza punctuated his win by staking his claim to his spot in line for the middleweight title.
“I am the best in the world and I wanted to make a statement. Of course, I am the most deserving of the title shot in my opinion but I will wait now,” Souza said. “I have nothing left to say about Romero or Bisping other than I will be waiting for the winner and I will be champion.”
Light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira defeated Jared Cannonier in dominating fashion, despite it going to a decision. Teixeira stated an eagerness to return to, eyeing a top contender or a title shot.
“I am ready to go when the UFC has another opponent in mind, maybe a Top 5 or Top 10 contender next time. However, the main thing is to be ready and see what comes my way,” Teixeira said. “You never hope for injuries but, in this game, it is important to always stay ready.
“So, if a title opportunity presents itself, I will be ready! I am here to fight the top athletes in the world.”
Stars Of The Night
Dustin Poirier and Jim Miller - Two warriors entered the cage and laid it all on the line in a thrilling war of grit and determination. Ultimately, Dustin Poirier got the win despite suffering a leg injury.
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza - In a night of consecutive decisions, Jacare broke the trend with the first finish of the evening, submitting Tim Boetsch with a Kimura in the first round.
Islam Makhachev - As dominant as a performance as you will ever see on the scorecards, Islam Makhachev scoring not one, but two 10-8 rounds on two different judges cards.
1. Never leave it in the judges’ hands
This is a common adage in mixed martial arts, but it continues to prove true. The night was marred by controversy, notably in the highest profile bouts. The majority of pundits had Brunson winning the fight, 19-4.
UFC president Dana White even lamented the decision.
“I had the fight one round to one round going into the third, and I gave the last to Brunson,” White said on the Fox Sports broadcast. “But it’s one of those things. I say it all the time, if you don’t want it to go to the judges, don’t let it go to the judges.”
Former bantamweight champion turned Fox Sports analyst Miesha Tate likewise scored the title fight for Holm, a popular decision amongst many fans.
“I’m not sure I agree with the judges’ decision. It was a close fight. I had the edge for Holly.” Tate said during the Fox Sports post-fight show. “She started chaotic and she had a lot of anxiety going into it, but she did much better as the rounds went on. Holly needed to be careful with the power of Germaine. I had Holly winning the later rounds.”
2. Anderson Silva has lost a step
One of the things that made Anderson Silva brilliant was his speed, namely his ability to dodge punches. Silva flashed moments of that speed, but he never seemed to be decisively in control of the bout. At 41-years of age, Silva’s speed will only continue to diminish in what is a deep and talented division. While he stated earlier in the week that he was considering five or six more fights and another run at the title, fans might prefer to see Silva ride off into the sunset as the greatest of all-time and not damage his legacy.
“We saw the flashes of old in this fight, but I think he should retire after this,” former fighter turned analyst Kenny Florian said on the post-fight show on Fox Sports. “We only saw flashes, not the old Anderson. I don’t want to see him take more damage than he has to.”
Dustin Poirier and Jim Miller had a wild flurry of fists to finish the first-round.
Rick Glenn somehow survived a vicious headkick from Philipe Nover.
Germaine de Randamie - The new featherweight champion has two options. The first and more desirable option is Cris Cyborg. The Brazilian is considered the best female fighter at 145 pounds, and many felt she should’ve been in the inaugural featherweight title bout. Ultimately, lacking titles to headline cards, the UFC pushed forward with the UFC 208. If injury pushes a Cyborg fight down the line—which doesn’t seem likely considering her recent call out of Invicta FC champion - de Randamie should fight Holm in a rematch.
On the Fox Sports after show, de Randamie made it clear she was willing to fight Cybrog.
“I want to fight everyone and if Cyborg is next, I’ll fight her,” de Randamie said.
Holly Holm - After defeating Ronda Rousey in stunning fashion at UFC 193, Holm finds herself in precarious waters losing her three fights since. During the post-fight press conference, Holm said she doesn’t have a preference on staying at 145 or 135 pounds, and she isn’t in a position to choose. Staying at featherweight, a division viewed as lacking depth, might be the best bet for Holm to get back into the win column.
Anderson Silva - After a controversial win over Derek Brunson, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Anderson Silva’s future. Fans might like to see Silva go out on a win instead of putting himself in harms way again, but Silva sees another title run and five or six more fights. Personally, Silva should walk away because it’s hard to see him beating someone like Luke Rockhold. If Silva were to fight anyone, a rematch with Michael Bisping would be compelling.
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza - Got a convincing win over unranked Tim Boetsch, a risky fight and Jacare had everything to lose and little to gain. Jacare said in the cage that he wants a title shot, and the middleweight title picture is murky. Yoel Romero has the next title shot and Luke Rockhold is hoping for a shot to reclaim the title. A date hasn’t been announced for Bisping-Romero, so if Jacare decides not wait for a title shot, Rockhold could be a viable opponent in a de facto No. 1 contender bout.
Fight of the Night: Poirier vs. Miller
Performance of the Night: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
*- Sold out and highest grossing sports event in arena history.
Germaine de Randamie def. Holly Holm via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
Anderson Silva def. Derek Brunson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Ronaldo Souza def. Tim Boetsch via submission (kimura) - Round 1, 3:41
Glover Teixeira def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Dustin Poirier def. Jim Miller via majority decision (28-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Fox Sports 1 Prelims
Belal Muhammad def. Randy Brown via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Islam Makhachev def. Nik Lentz via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-27)
Wilson Reis def. Ulka Sasaki via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Rick Glenn def. Phillipe Nover via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Fight Pass Prelims
Ryan LaFlare def. Roan Carneiro via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
The UFC is back in action next weekend in Halifax, Canada for a rare Sunday evening event. Derrick Lewis has one of his toughest tests to date when he squares off with Travis Browne. The next pay-per-view is March 4th, when welterweight champion Tyron Woodley defends his belt for a second consecutive time against challenger Stephen Thompson. Woodley and Thompson fought at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden, the result of which was an indecisive majority draw. In the co-main event, Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov fight for the interim title, the winner getting a shot at Conor McGregor in a title unification bout in the future.