While the shadow of Cristiane Justino will undoubtedly loom over UFC 208 (online betting) this weekend, her absence from the promotion’s inaugural women’s featherweight title bout is of little concern to Germaine de Randamie.
De Randamie will square off against former bantamweight queen Holly Holm for 145-pound gold in the UFC 208 headliner at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night. The matchup has not received rave reviews from critics, particularly when Justino, the world’s top female featherweight talent for years, won’t be a part of the proceedings.
Of course, that isn’t entirely the UFC’s fault. Before “Cyborg” failed an out-of-competition drug test, she turned down a pair of 145-pound title fights, according to UFC President Dana White.
Regardless of Justino’s status, de Randamie believes that she and Holm are deserving of their spot atop the UFC 208 lineup.
“I respect everybody’s opinion. And absolutely, Cris got the offer to fight Holly. Cris got the offer to fight me. And she wasn’t able. And I don’t know the exact reason she wasn’t able to. Then Holly and I got the offer to fight each other and we both said yes,” de Randamie said during a recent conference call.
“I mean, if you’re a champion, you fight against everybody. Holly and I are going to fight and one of us will decide who’s the next number one. And if one of us has to defend the title against Cris Cyborg, it will be Cris Cyborg who we defend the title against,” she continued. “I mean, we’re going to fight and no matter what people think, one of us will be the 145 champion. I mean if you look at Holly’s credentials and you look at my credentials, I think we both accomplished a lot for the sport. So, I think we absolutely belong in the top.”
De Randamie has won three of her first four UFC bouts at bantamweight, including back-to-back KO/TKO stoppages of Anna Elmose and Larissa Pachecho in her last two outings. Her lone loss in the Octagon came via first-round technical knockout against current bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes at UFC Fight Night 31 in November 2013. Still, “The Iron Lady” is much more accomplished in muay Thai, where she won multiple world championships. She recognizes that she will be the lesser known commodity at UFC 208 against Holm, an opponent who rose to superstardom by becoming the first woman to defeat Ronda Rousey.
“I mean, I’m fighting a top competitor in Holly. I mean, she’s a decorated fighter. And there’s no doubt in my mind that I have to be on top of my top game. I have to perform. I cannot make a mistake,” de Randamie said. “I understand that a lot of people do not know a lot about my kickboxing, probably because I’m also not from the United States. I live in Europe. And the kickboxing scene in the United States is not as big as it is in Europe. So, it’s okay. I mean, it’s always nice to be the underdog and be the Unknown Fighter. So, I kind of like my position right now, to be honest.”
And while de Randamie has myriad accomplishments in the kickboxing realm, a UFC belt would be the icing on the cake of her combat sports tenure.
“I think if I win, it will solidify my career,” she said. “I’ve had an amazing career so far already. And I have accomplished things that I could have in my wildest dreams I couldn’t believe that I did all these things. And yes, winning a UFC belt, I think that would solidify it. In the past a lot of people have doubted me and told me I couldn’t do it. And I’m a believer -- you can do anything you want in life as long as you put your heart and soul to it. And yes, I want it. I want to win and I want to solidify my career. It would be amazing.”