Not since Bas Rutten in 1999 has Holland had an Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder it could call its own. Enter Germaine de Randamie.
The Dutch muay Thai stylist outstruck Holly Holm across five rounds to pocket a unanimous decision and claim the inaugural women’s featherweight championship in the UFC 208 main event on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. All three judges scored it 48-47 for de Randamie, though the paths they took to get there varied somewhat: Sal D’Amato and Jeff Mullin gave her Rounds 1-3, while Chris Lee awarded “The Iron Lady” the first, second and fourth rounds.
Statistics also indicate the fight was close. According to FightMetric data, de Randamie landed more total strikes (144-122) and more significant strikes (80-77) than “The Preacher’s Daughter” but not by wide margins. She also denied all nine takedown attempts tried against her. Even so, a case can be made for Holm. The Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay wrapped a head kick around de Randamie’s head late in the third round and dropped her to a knee with a straight left in the fifth, all while luring her into one suffocating clinch exchange after another. Nevertheless, Holm has lost three fights in a row since her stunning upset of Ronda Rousey some 15 months ago, clouding her immediate future.
In the aftermath of UFC 208 “Holm vs. de Randamie,” here are five matches that ought to be made (online betting):
Germaine de Randamie vs. Cris Cyborg: The soon-to-be 33-year-old de Randamie has rattled off three straight wins since her technical knockout defeat to Amanda Nunes in November 2013, besting Holm, Anna Elmose and Larissa Pacheco in succession. Once she recovers from a forthcoming surgery to repair a torn hand ligament, the road does not figure to get any easier. A showdown with the frightening Justino appears to be waiting in the wings, so de Randamie’s stay atop the fledgling 145-pound division could be brief. Easily the most feared woman in the sport, “Cyborg” has not tasted defeat since she submitted to an Erica Paes kneebar in her professional MMA debut on May 17, 2005.
Ronaldo Souza vs. Michael Bisping-Yoel Romero winner: Souza did what was expected of him, as he kept his name on the short list of potential title contenders at 185 pounds by submitting Tim Boetsch with a first-round kimura. He needed less than four minutes to do business against “The Barbarian.” Souza now owns a stellar 7-1 record inside the Octagon, with five of those seven wins resulting in first-round finishes. Bisping appears to be ticketed for a middleweight title defense against Romero sometime in the first half of 2017, with “Jacare” perhaps awaiting the victor. Romero happens to be the only man to defeat Souza under the UFC banner, the 2000 Olympic silver medalist having taken a split decision from the Brazilian in December 2015.
Glover Teixeira vs. Jimi Manuwa-Corey Anderson winner: The savvy Teixeira analyzed the situation and calculated his clearest route to victory against Jared Cannonier in their light heavyweight showcase. The former Shooto Americas champion executed repeated takedowns against Cannonier and controlled him on the floor, exposing the flaws in his still-developing arsenal. Teixeira, 37, has won four of his last five bouts, a 13-second knockout loss to Anthony Johnson his lone misstep. Manuwa will meet Anderson in the UFC Fight Night 107 main event on March 18 in London.
Dustin Poirier vs. Edson Barboza-Beneil Dariush winner: American Top Team’s Poirier may have paid a steep physical price for his unanimous decision over Jim Miller, as he required assistance to exit the cage after the verdict was read. Miller pelted the Louisiana native’s lower lead leg with wicked kicks in defeat, resulting in what seemed to be a significant injury. The severity of the damage will determine Poirier’s next move within the cutthroat lightweight division. Barboza and Dariush are set to square off at UFC Fight Night 106 on March 11 in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Wilson Reis vs. Kyoji Horiguchi: Even though he was once ticketed to challenge Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight championship, Reis seems to have become the odd man out at 125 pounds. The onetime EliteXC titleholder withstood a few sketchy moments to capture a unanimous decision over Yuta Sasaki on the UFC 208 undercard. Reis, who operates out of the Alliance MMA camp in San Diego, has gone 6-2 since arriving in the Ultimate Fighting Championship three and a half years ago. Only Iuri Alcantara and Jussier da Silva have beaten him, the former having done so as a bantamweight. Horiguchi last appeared at UFC Fight Night 99 on Nov. 19, when he earned a three-round unanimous decision over Ali Bagautinov.