What have you heard about UFC 208?
If your answer is “not much”, then you’re not alone. The next pay-per-view UFC event (February 11, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York) has been one of the least hyped events I can remember. When you take a look at the card, you can understand why.
The introduction of the women’s featherweight division, created with Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino in mind, was the big story for 208. But when Cyborg tested positive for a masking agent in December, the UFC struggled to find a decent replacement fight. What they settled on failed to drum up much excitement: former champion Holly Holm vs. tenth-ranked bantamweight Germaine de Randamie.
In order to beef up the card, they also added a fight between UFC legend Anderson Silva and eighth-ranked middleweight Derek Brunson.
Those are the two big fights of the night. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for us.
Holly Holm (-126) vs Germaine de Randamie (+104)
Holly Holm (10-2) and Germaine de Randamie (6-3) will move up to 145 lbs to contest the newly created women’s bantamweight title. Both were big for the bantamweight division (135 lbs) and are better suited for featherweight (145 lbs).
Holm achieved UFC stardom after she destroyed then-undefeated bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, but has since lost two straight fights. While the former boxing champion remains the third-ranked fighter in the bantamweight division, another loss could be the end for her in the UFC.
Germaine de Randamie is a former Muay Thai champion with a checkered MMA record. She only has four UFC fights under her belt, going 3-1 so far in the octagon. But her most notable fight came against Amanda Nunes, who finished her in the first round.
Holly Holm is the favorite and for good reason. De Randamie has yet to prove herself, and giving her a title shot seems premature. Holm’s -126 line suggests a 56-percent chance of winning. I see her more as a 60 to 65-percent favorite, so you’re getting good value on the former champ.
Pick: Holly Holm (-126)
Anderson Silva (+145) vs Derek Brunson (-161)
Anderson Silva (33-8) returns to the UFC to take on eighth-ranked middleweight Derek Brunson (16-4). The last time we saw Silva enter the octagon, it was after he agreed to fight light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier on 48 hours’ notice. Silva ended up losing by decision but he put on one hell of a fight.
Brunson is an aggressive fighter who can be pretty sloppy. In his last fight against Robert Whittaker, he came out charging and was finished in the first round.
Silva may be well past his prime but he is still a relatively active and formidable fighter. He still has some of the speed, precision, and technical ability that made him arguably the greatest fighter of all time.
We’ve seen many MMA and boxing greats succumb to younger opponents recently (RIP BJ Penn), but Silva is a different story. The way he went toe-to-toe with Cormier – who is a top-fighter in his prime – showed that he can still hang with the upper echelon of the sport, even if he’s not going to dominate the way he used to. The overly aggressive Brunson is exactly the kind of fighter Silva thrives against. There’s no way he should be a 60/40 underdog.
Pick: Anderson Silva (+145)
Photo credit: “Miesha Tate defeats Holly Holm at UFC 196” by Sabre Blade, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.