UFC 208’s main event between Holly Holm and Germaine De Randamie for the UFC women’s featherweight belt is oddly intriguing. Here’s why.
This weekend, history will be made as the UFC will crown its first ever women’s featherweight champion, which would (supposedly) usher in the a complete roster of women at 145lbs. The athletes vying for this title: USA’s Holm and the Netherlands’ De Randamie.
As historic as UFC 208’s main event may be, it can’t help but come off as odd for a number of reasons.
2 losses and a title shot
Holm, the former women’s bantamweight champion, is coming off consecutive losses: one to Miesha Tate and another to Valentina Shevchenko. Despite that, she’s getting a title shot. And not only will she be getting a crack at a UFC belt; she’s also getting the opportunity to become the first female fighter to hold titles in two UFC weight classes, and only the 4th person to ever do so. The other three are BJ Penn, Randy Couture, and Conor McGregor. That’s a very exclusive group, and Holm can be a part of it, despite her current losing skid.
Queen of none
Another odd thing about this title fight is that the winner will become the queen of a non-existent division. There is no UFC women’s featherweight roster yet. There are no rankings or contenders. Many of the division’s up and comers are also in the all-female league Invicta FC and haven’t been signed by the UFC. Putting a title on the line in this bout seems more of a marketing ploy to add value to the main event and, automatically, the entire card (as the UFC appeared to do when they made Anthony Pettis vs. Max Holloway an interim title fight after the card’s original headliner was scrapped due to an injury, or as many smaller promotions do to hype up their cards).
There’s no doubt that having a high-profile name like Holm or Randamie as the new division’s champ would give it structure and relevance. But then again, it’s odd that the weight division doesn’t even exist yet.
No Cyborg in sight
Evidently, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is not in this title fight. This is odd given that she’s arguably the most dominant female fighter of our time and no doubt the most dominant female featherweight of all time. She’s under contract with the UFC and has been competing for them in 140lbs catchweight bouts. So why is it that now that there’s an actual 145lbs. division and a title shot, she’s nowhere to be seen?
This was the center of media and fan uproar when the Holm-De Randamie title match up was first announced. But that noise has seriously mellowed down when news broke that Justino was flagged for a potential US Anti-Doping Association (USADA) violation. Turns out, she wouldn’t be able to fight for the belt even if she got the shot.
The funny thing about all this is: You’ll probably still tune in.
First of all, this is a great stylistic match up between two of the most decorated strikers in the women’s bantamweight division. Holm is a former multiple-time pro boxing champ who’s won titles in 3 weight classes. She’s also competed in kickboxing. Seven of her 10 pro MMA wins have been via KO/TLP. De Randamie, on the other hand, went undefeated (37-0) as a pro kickboxer, with 14 wins via KO. In MMA, she has 6 wins, 3 via KO/ TKO.
They are both high-level strikers who offer a wide arsenal of attacks. They both know how to manage the distance between themselves and their opponents and can finish the bout at any moment. This fight has fireworks written all over it, unless both fighters decide to play a more conservative game.
The fact that this is a title fight for a non-existent division where one fighter is on a 2-fight skid taints the bout in some regard. But title or no title, we have ourselves a fight, and a good one at that.
Watch our interviews with both fighter:
Photo via UFC’s Instagram account