After introducing the bantamweight and strawweight titles for women over the last few years, now it’s the featherweights getting their shot. Oddly, it’s a pair of former UFC bantamweights fighting for that inaugural title as, with Cris Cyborg on hold due to a potential USADA violation, Germaine De Randamie takes on former 135 lbs champion Holly Holm.
Fighting out of her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Holm entered MMA in 2011 as one of the best professional female boxers of all time. Two regional wins and one Bellator outing got Holm off to a good start before she transitioned to Legacy FC and made a real name for herself in the MMA world with some big finishes.
That lead to the UFC picking her up but her time inside the octagon got off to a forgettable start with two average decision wins. With the division in dire need of challengers at the time it turned out to be enough to earn her a title shot against Ronda Rousey which, as everyone knows, ended in one of the biggest shocks in MMA history. Unfortunately for Holm that high point came crashing down quickly and she now finds herself in a new division with two losses in as many bouts.
Looking to make that three in a row will be Dutch dynamo Germaine De Randamie. Like Holm, De Randamie was a renowned striker before her MMA career with multiple world titles to her name in muay-thai.
In 2008 De Randamie lost her MMA debut but bounced back with two wins – the second of which marked her Strikeforce debut. A loss to Julia Budd and a win over Hiroko Yamanaka followed that before the UFC signed her up in 2013. Since then she is 3-1, only losing to current bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, and looks to add Holly Holm to her growing list of victims.
As their pre-MMA exploits suggest, this one is very likely to be a striking battle on Saturday night. Although still an interesting clash of styles.
Holm is an old-school counter fighter. She is extremely fond of keeping fights at long range and will maintain that distance until her opponent closes it.
If that doesn’t happen, Holm will happily point fight with jabs from the outside; but if it does, she becomes hugely dangerous and has the ability to beat most people in a punching exchange. To that, she often threatens with a high kick and has a takedown in her locker – but the former is a lot more likely than the latter.
Opposing her, De Randamie is much more of an attacking fighter. Unlike Holm, she has no qualms about instigating the exchanges. With her long reach she uses her jab very well and follows it up with some terrific combination punching and kicking, the highlight of which is a seismic uppercut.
Another huge De Randamie quality is her clinch game. As a striker, it’s only natural to come up against takedown attempts a lot in MMA and De Randamie uses her clinch when faced with that. She has a canny knack of getting the Thai plum and destroys everything in her wake with knees when she does it.
Put those games together and you have a very interesting fight. If both ladies fight like they normally do, we could be in for a real humdinger.
Holm likes for her opponent to lead.
De Randamie likes to lead.
If only it was as simple as that.
Logically, with Holm likely to want that sort of fight, you would think that De Randamie will change up her game here. Obviously she is very confident in her ability but it’s unlikely that she will want to play directly into Holm’s game.
Now, usually you would look at the ground as an option here but for De Randamie it’s more about mixing it up on the feet and in the clinch. Her natural attacking instincts will still be effective but the use of the jab to score points and draw counters could also be useful. If she can draw Holm in, she can clinch up.
From that point, it all comes down to timing. If Holm can land, avoid the clinch and get back out she will be well on her way to winning the fight. But if De Randamie can clinch, or even get Holm worried enough thinking about it so she can land her own shots, it’ll be a tough night for the American.
With that in mind, you would have to think that the clinch work Holm did when preparing to fight Ronda Rousey will stand to her here. I fancy this one to go the whole five rounds with Holm winning at least three of those periods.
Beyond the main event, this card has some good fights but also some very odd ones.
Into the latter category fits the meeting of MMA legend Anderson Silva and fellow middleweight Derek Brunson despite their closeness in the rankings. For Brunson, it’s a chance to take out a legend while for Silva the only upside is getting back into the win column for the first time (officially) in five years.
In his last fight, Brunson changed from his usual game of picking shots intelligently to throwing them wildly; something counter-punching Anderson Silva would love. Although questions still exist over Silva’s chin you’d have to fancy him here if he can avoid getting slept.
The same could probably be said for his friend and teammate Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza who takes on Tim Boetsch to put himself right in line for a shot at Michael Bisping’s title. (Note: That still feels weird to say.)
As matchmaking goes, this one is about as one-sided as non-CM Punk UFC fights get and should act as a good tune-up bout for Jacare as he returns from a spell on the treatment table.
Other than that, Wilson Reis or Ian McCall could put themselves in line for a crack at Demetrious Johnson with a good win, Glover Teixeira vs. Jared Cannonier is a fantastic meeting of power strikers at 205 lbs while the show could very well be stolen by a magic lightweight scrap between finishers Dustin Poirier and Jim Miller.
Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie – Close decision goes to Holm
Anderson Silva vs. Derek Brunson – Anderson wins a decision
Ronaldo Souza vs. Tim Boetsch – Early finish for Jacare
Glover Teixeira vs. Jared Cannonier – I’m picking an underdog KO for Jared
Dustin Poirier vs. Jim Miller – Poirier via submission
Randy Brown vs. Belal Muhammad – Brown
Wilson Reis vs. Ulka Sasaki – Reis
Nik Lentz vs. Islam Makhachev – Makhachev
Ian McCall vs. Jarred Brooks – Uncle Creepy