Recapping UFC 208
UFC 208 was the first Pay Per View for 2017 and Saturday night it came to us from Brooklyn New York. This card featured the crowning of the first ever Women’s Featherweight Champion in the main event. The full card went from 12 fights to 10 within the last 48 hours leading up to Saturday night’s card. For one particular fighter Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall (13-5-1 #6 Ranked Flyweight) this saw his 5th straight cancellation of a fight in a row, and this time it was due to an illness on Saturday. While the New York Athletic Commission pulled Justin “Big Pretty” Willis (4-1)from the card due to being medically unfit to compete on Friday. Either way, the card went on and the main event for the first ever Women’s Featherweight Title featured former Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (10-3) going up against Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie (7-3). This was a night that certainly didn’t keep the judges bored as a majority of the fights went to decision. With only 1 finish in the 10 fights that made the card, it certainly was not the most entertaining card in the world, which is disappointing as people were already somewhat down on this card. Either way, lets get into the recap.
The night kicked off with only 1 UFC Fight Pass Prelim between Ryan LaFlare (13-1) and Roan “Jucao” Carneiro (21-11). LaFlare looked to get started early with some body kicks and constant pressure. LaFlare shot for a takedown that was stuffed. Carneiro did go for a takedown of his own but it ended up with him in deep half card. The fighters got back to the feet and traded some punches as round 1 came to an end. Round 2 started with LaFlare pressuring and throwing leg and body kicks again. The striking advantage was clearly in LaFlare’s favor. A slip from Carneiro saw him end up in full guard, which is where he wanted to fight to be. LaFlare ended up backing off and getting back to his feet to force Carneiro to strike with him. LaFlare knocked Carneiro down and followed up with some ground and pound that was unable to finish the fight, but saw Carneiro to be able to recover. The fight got back to the feet and saw a few wild missed punches from both fighters as the horn sounded. Carneiro actually ended up hitting his head on a camera that was peering over the Octagon and was then taken down. The fight got back to its feet and Carneiro landed a nice right hand Carneiro continued to throw single punches until a clinch was initiated by LaFlare, a takedown ensued and Carneiro ended up on top. Carneiro ended the fight in full mount landing some punches as the round ended. The fight went to the judges who scored it 30-26, 30-27, and 29-8 for Ryan LaFlare. LaFlare looked very good despite ending the fight in the bottom position. The pressure mixed with clinching and wrestling was the perfect game plan against Jucao. If LaFlare can stay healthy he has a real shot to make some noise in the Welterweight division.
We jump to FS1, which started with what was supposed to be the first Fight Pass fight between former World Series of Fighting Champion Rick “The Gladiator” Glenn (19-4-1) and Ultimate Fighter Alum Philippe “The Filipino Assassin” Nover (12-8-1). Nover and Glenn came out and immediately started trading . Nover landed a really nice head kick that Glenn walked directly through. Nover continued to throw an array of kicks to keep Glenn at a distance. Glenn caught a low kick and unloaded some nice right hands that pushed Nover against the fence, until it broke and Nover ran to the other side of the cage. Round 2 was a really good round for Glenn, he was able to use the clinch to his advantage and really start landing strikes. At one point in the end of the round Glenn had Nover up against the sage and landed a really nice knee to the body. Round 3 started off with Nover really using his jab to control the Octagon. Glenn started to look for a takedown against the cage, but Nover was having none of it. After a full minute of almost no action against the cage the ref reset the fight in the middle of the Octagon. Glenn, went right back to trying to grab a takedown against the cage. With about a minute left in the round they ended back in the center of the Octagon in a lackluster striking exchange. A flurry of elbows against the cage from Glenn rounded out the fight. The judges decided this one with scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 28-29 for Rick Glenn by split decision. This was Glenn’s first UFC victory, and he will need to keep the fights going like this to start making his move in the UFC. His pressure in the second and third round are what won him this fight, and if he can do that to more fighters he will see success. Glenn was a champion in the World Series of Fighting promotion, and that experience cannot be overlooked.
Up next we had Nik “The Carny” Lentz (29-8-2 1 NC) go head to head with Islam Makhachev (14-1). The fight almost immediately goes to the ground, where Lentz looked to get a guillotine. It was not a super tight attempt and Islam was able to escape. Makhachev was just able to really control the ground game, and was really keeping Lentz where he wanted him. Lentz, was able to get back to the feet, but Makhachev put a stop to that very quickly and brought him back down. Lentz, again looked for a guillotine, but it had no real finishing danger as the round expired. As round 2 began, there was some early engagement on the feet. Makhachev landed a very nice left right head kick combination, and just a few seconds later landed a really nice head kick. Makhachev again landed a takedown and pressured to get into the mount position. There was very little ground and pound, but more searching for position from Makhachev. Lentz again threatened with a guillotine for a very short period of time, but it was slipped out of. Makhachev, did take Lentz back briefly, but really was unable to threaten with anything at the end of round 2. Lentz did manage to get a clinch after absorbing a body kick, but it turned into a Makhachev take down, and more ground control from the Dagestan native. Makhachev had some beautiful transitions that led to full back mount and some ground and pound that was very heavy. Lentz somehow managed to scramble out as the round and fight came to an end. The judges came back with scores of 30-25, 30-25, and 30-27 for Islam Makhachev. This was a real dominating win for Makhachev, which showed off his superior grappling ability, which is a staple of the Dagestan fighters. Makhachev will continue to advance up the rankings with these skills for sure moving forward.
A Flyweight matchup came next with Wilson Reis (22-6 #5 Ranked Flyweight) going head to head with Ulka Sasaki (19-4-2). Sasaki has a real height and reach advantage, and started with a body kick that was countered with a right hand from Reis. Just over a minute in Reis landed a really nice double leg, which did not amount to much, but Sasaki was able to get the fight back to standing. Reis landed yet another takedown, and was really controlling the fight on the ground. Round 2 saw another similar start, with Reis throwing some punches then changing levels and scoring a double leg takedown. Reis transitioned with a ton of skill to taking Sasaki’s back until it was transitioned to Sasaki on top and then standing up. The fight got back to the ground with Reis in control of Sasaki’s back, but he was just unable to finish the fight from the more dominant position. Sasaki showed his submission defense was something to be admired. The fight got back to the feet, and went right back to the ground with yet another takedown for Reis as the round expired. Round three started with a lot more standup than we had seen throughout the fight. Reis landed some stiff right hands, but did eat a head kick from Sasaki. Less than 3 minutes left Reis landed another double leg, but Sasaki was able to get back to the feet. Reis just continued to take Sasaki down, but in a quick reversal of fortune Sasaki was able to take Reis back and lock in a body triangle and land some serious ground and pound. The judges stayed busy with another fight going to the cards and being scored 29-28, 29-28, and 29-28 fro Wilson Reis. This could be the fight that gets Reis another scheduled fight with Flyweight Champion and potentially Pound for Pound king Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (25-2-1 Flyweight Champion). Reis was scheduled last July until an injury to Mighty Mouse forced the fight to be canceled, but another win in the Octagon and no scheduled fight for Johnson could see these two lock horns in the very near future.
The final prelim on FS1 had Randy “Rudeboy” Brown (9-2) taking on Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad (11-2). Muhammad came out just looking to pepper the front leg with kicks and landed at least 3 leg kicks in the first 30 seconds. Brown landed a good right-left combination that stepped Muhammad back. Muhammad continued to utilize the legs kicks while brown started to throw some body kicks of his own. The story of round one was Muhammad’s leg kicks and he really took control of the standup with those kicks. Brown came right out in round 2 looking to push the pace, and it was met with the clinch from Muhammad who pushed him against the cage. Muhammad was able to take this a grappling game at the end of Round 2. He took full back control and was landing some serious ground and pound as the round came to an end. Brown came out in round 3 with some combinations, but they were again met with a takedown attempt from Muhammad. Brown was able to stuff the attempt for a second until Muhammad was able to finish it. Brown tried to attack from the bottom until Muhammad transition to taking his back again with well over 2 minutes left in the fight. The judges decided yet another on and came back with 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 in favor of Belal Muhammad. For Muhammad this win gets him back on track after his first loss inside the Octagon. Brown needs to get back in the gym and work on being more well rounded in dealing with the leg kicks and the takedowns of his opponent.
The first UFC Pay Per view bout in 2017 had UFC Veterans Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (21-5 #10 Ranked Lightweight) Jim Miller (28-9). These two veterans got started and there was some looking for distance and timing with punches traded. Poirier came out with some leg kicks early. The fighters continued to trade combinations that were just missing. Miller shot for a takedown, but it was stuffed and then he ended up pressed against the fence in the clinch. On the break of the clinch there was a really nice right hand from Poirier that made solid contact. In a really slick exchange Poirier caught a kick and tripped Miller down, but on Miller’s way back up he scored a double leg that rolled into him having Poirier’s back, Poirier finally escaped and as the fighters got back to their feet they started training absolute haymakers at each other as the round ended. Round 2 saw another standup battle early. Miller was landing nice kicks, but Poirier’s counters saw him wobble miller against the cage. Poirier really started find success with his hands, and landed a lot of big shots with Miller up against the cage. Eventually after some clinching against the cage Poirier landed a takedown. Eventually Poirier backed off and he stood up to get Miller back to his feet as well. Round 3 was right back to more of the standup game, but Miller was the one lading the better of the shots. Miller’s leg kicks were really doing damage and knuckled Poirier who was now visibly favoring his leg. Poirier eventually caught a kick and took him down. Miller battled back to his feet with just over a minute left and kept the fight in the clinch. Miller had a really nice chance at a kimura very late, but it was lost and the fight went to the judges. The judges came back with 30-27, 29-28, and 28-28 for a majority Decision to Dustin Poirier. Poirier’s leg will certainly keep him out of action for a while, but this was a big win for him. Beating an opponent like Miller is a huge win, and that will see Poirier getting another big opponent up next.
A light heavyweight Showdown was up next with Glover Teixeira (26-5 #3 Ranked Light Heavyweight) taking on Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier (9-2 #15 Ranked Light Heavyweight). Teixeira came out really looking god moving forward and feinting to keep Cannonier moving. A single leg takedown from Teixeira gave him the top position and eventually a full transition to a guillotine choke that Cannonier escaped. Teixeira really just controlled this round from the top position throughout on the ground. The fight did get back up to the feet under a minute left in the round, but there was not a lot action except a few punches from Cannonier. Round 2 was a lot of the same with Teixeira on top on the mat. Some really nice ground and pound form the mount for Teixeira just really owned round 2. He searched for submissions but was unable to finish the fight. Round 3 was even more of the same and it was very clear that Teixeira just had such a much more advanced ground game that dominated the fight. The judges came back with scores of 30-26, 30-26, and 30-26 for Teixeira. This was a risky fight for the number 3 Light Heavyweight in the world, but a win gets him back on track to get another top 5 opponents.
The long awaited return of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ace Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (23-4 #3 Ranked Middleweight) was met by the long time Middleweight power of Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch (20-10 #13 Ranked Middleweight). After a short feeling out period, there was a long range shot attempt from Jacare, but Boetsch was able to stop the takedown and only end up on the clinch. Boetsch was able to land a really nice punch, but then caught leg kick saw Jacare end up on top of Boetsch on the ground. A beautiful transition saw Jacare get into full mount and transition into a beautiful kimura arm lock and got the submission victory. Jacare almost certainly has to get that next title shot at Middleweight after just a dominating performance.
The Co-Main event of the evening was up next between UFC Legend Anderson “The Spider” Silva (34-8 1 NC # 7 Ranked Middleweight) and Middleweight knockout artist Derek Brunson (16-5 #8 Ranked Welterweight). The first strike was not thrown until over a minute in to the 1st round when Brunson threw a checked leg kick. Silva returned some nice shots and eventually pushed forward which caused Brunson to shoot for a takedown that was stuffed. A clinch along the cage saw Brunson get a few good shots in, but upon the clinch breaking Anderson landed a few more solid punches. In another flurry Brunson certainly landed a few slick punches that may have hurt Silva. The more punches that Silva through Brunson started to run. Then a clinch in the middle saw Brunson unload several uppercuts on Silva until he finally let his clinch grip go. The round ended with Anderson slipping and Brunson ending up on top in the last 15 seconds. An early shot for a takedown from Brunson in round 2 was stuffed rather easily. Anderson was really getting the better of the striking, and using his kicks to control the cage. There was a quick takedown that saw Silva get right back up to his feet in a clinch against the cage. Silva began dancing around and landed a nice punch body kick combination. Round 2 came to an end with not a lot of action. Brunson came out more active to start round 3, and kept pushing forward. There was another takedown that got stuffed by Silva who was just not allowing Brunson to do anything in terms of takedowns. There were some exchanges in the clinch, but there was almost no action. Brunson finally secured a takedown with just 2 minutes left, but really did almost no damage. The judges again decided this fight with scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27 all for Anderson Silva. The judge who scored it 30-27 needs to be asked how Brunson did not win at least the third round. This decision was definitely one that could be questioned, especially when it came to the stats from the fight where Brunson out landed the significant strikes of Silva. Octagon control and moving forward, may have been what gave the fight to the Spider. However in the new world of the UFC this may have gotten him a title shot even though this was no where near as an impressive victory as Jacare’s. You have to feel for Brunson who has now lost 2 straight fights and will need to look to get a win in a big way next time out.
The main event of the evening for the first ever Women’s Bantamweight Championship finished the night between Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (10-3) and Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie (7-3). Holm came out really looking to land kicks, but the counter of a right hand for de Randamie was effective. The Use of leg kicks fro Holm was very impressive. Holm initiated some clinch in a shot for a takedown that was stopped. A cage battle ensued that did not lead to a bunch of action as the round expired. Holm continued to fight on the outside in round 2 and got a lot counter shots from de Randamie. Holly was able to clinch and again force the action against the cage. The round really did not have a ton of action outside of the clinch. The end of the round is where controversy became apparent. As the bell sounded a combination of a knee a right hand prior to the bell and then right after the bell a huge swinging right hand landed and buckled Holm. At this point the issue arose from this clearly illegal blow there was no ruling from the referee. No point was deducted and the fight continued on to round 3. Holm seemed to be recovered and pushed the pressure in the round, but really didn’t do any damage. There was a clinch towards the end of the round, which broke with a big right hand from de Randamie. A big head kick from Holm saw de Randamie stumble to pop back up and throw combinations as the bell rang and two more punches came after the round that did not connect, but again another example of punches after the round that led to a warning for strikes after. There is almost no doubt that a point should have been deducted from that second instance. This is the growing pain for a new athletic commission like New York with inexperienced refs leading to problems inside of the cage in big moments. Holm kept the pressure up in round 4 and pushed de Randamie up against the cage. Body kicks from de Randamie kept Holm at bay. There were some exchanges throughout the end of the round, but it did not amount to much. As we headed in to the 5th and final round the fight was very close. The fighters came out and touched gloves to kick off the final round. A big left hand from Holm seemed to sink de Randamie, but upon a further look a clash of heads is what wobbled and cut her. A clinch battle against the cage ensued and Holm was basically pressing her up against the cage. De Randamie was doing a lot more work against the cage, but then the referees separated the two. The fight ended with almost no action and the referee almost being in between the two prior to the fight coming to a close. The judges continued their busy ways for this event and came back with scores of 48-47, 48-47, and 48-47 for Germaine de Randamie. This win is not without controversy however due to the after bell punches following round 2 and 3. The next fight will either be running this extremely close decision back or a date with the most dangerous fighter in the Women’s Featherweight Division Cris Cyborg (16-1) who most certainly, pending USADA and their suspension that could come, is the next contender for this title belt. Holy Holm has now lost 3 straight fights since claiming the Women’s Bantamweight Championship in 2015. It will really be interesting to see where she goes moving forward.
UFC 208 will not be a card that is remembered for outstanding fights which is not good for the UFC. The card was already being criticized as not being the best, but the fights were just not that entertaining. The co-main and main event of the card were close fights, but had large pieces that had a lot of lulls in action. Luckily the UFC will be back in full force Pay Per View wise coming in the near future with UFC 209 being a stacked card with multiple titles on the line. The UFC is back next weekend with a Sunday night card live from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada with a Heavyweight showdown between Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (17-4 1 NC #8 Ranked Heavyweight) taking on Travis “Hapa” Browne (18-5-1 # 9 Ranked Heavyweight). That one should be a slugfest and hopefully, the card can deliver some really great fights.