UFC 208 is almost upon us, and the company’s second return to New York is finally here—except this time, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be hosting the event, unlike Madison Square Garden back in November.
The first pay-per-view of 2017 may not have the star power that UFC 205, 206 or 207 had, but this is a sneaky-good card for the diehard UFC fans. More so than the inaugural featherweight title up for grabs between Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie, there are also a couple of really interesting fights, including Anderson Silva vs. Derek Brunson and Jacare Souza vs. Tim Boetsch.
Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie
This is a tough fight for Holm.
The UFC isn’t doing Holm any favors by putting her in the Octagon against De Randamie, a world champion kickboxer and muay thai champion. Holm is in desperate need of a victory on Saturday not only to make history, but to keep her UFC career alive.
Holm isn’t in any danger of getting released by the company or anything of that nature, but a third consecutive loss would make Holm a tough sell to its fans in a time when the new UFC owners and matchmakers are scrambling to put fight cards together to make money.
Holm, for as good as she is on her feet, cannot exchange with a striker like De Randamie, who can overpower Holm standing, in the clinch and on the ground if she has top control.
The best hope for Holm is that she can score a couple of takedowns to disrupt De Randamie‘s rhythm and make her think twice about being too aggressive and overcommitting.
Unfortunately for her, De Randamie will pick her apart and get the finish early in this one and make history as the company’s first-ever 145-pound female champion. Is Cris Cyborg next? We shall see.
Prediction: De Randamie defeats Holm in the second round via TKO.
Anderson Silva vs. Derek Brunson
The Spider is back.
While Silva hasn’t officially won a UFC fight since 2012 after getting knocked out by Chris Weidman, breaking his leg in the rematch against Weidman, a no-contest against Nick Diaz, a controversial loss to Michael Bisping and a loss to Daniel Cormier, it’s still a little strange to see him as an underdog.
Especially to a fighter like Derek Brunson.
Don’t get me wrong, Brunson is worthy of being a Top 10 fighter in this division, but being favored to beat Silva? That’s a bit steep, if you ask me. Brunson is coming off a tough first-round knockout loss to Robert Whittaker. Before that, Brunson was riding high with a five-fight win streak, including an impressive knockout victory over Uriah Hall.
Brunson is more than capable of stopping any fight with his power and precision as a striker, but Silva is arguably the best male striker the UFC has ever seen. Before he can even think of laying his hands on the former world champion, Brunson has to show that he can withstand Silva’s power and technique.
Prediction: Silva defeats Brunson in the third round via TKO.
Jacare Souza vs. Tim Boetsch
When this fight was announced, a lot of pundits were scratching their heads. While this is a huge opportunity for Tim Boetsch to cement himself as a title contender and move up the pecking order for an eventual title shot, it’s hard to see any real benefit for Souza. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose.
And that’s not a good position to be in when you’re a prizefighter.
For The Barbarian, this fight is, stylistically speaking, a bad matchup if Souza can find his way to the mat whether he’s in top control or in full guard. The last thing Boetsch wants to do is play the ground game with Souza, who is one of the world’s most elite grapplers and jiu-jitsu practitioners.
While the Brazilian has shown improvements in his striking over his last few fights, he’s still not an elite-level boxer by any means, which is where Boetsch has a glimmer of hope of taking down his heavily favored opponent.
But leave it to Boetsch to show no fear inside the Octagon against one of the best middleweights in the world. He even predicted that Souza will go down in one round.
That’s right, the underdog is calling his shot.
Everyone loves an underdog story, and perhaps no other sport sees an underdog win as often as MMA does. However, this is not one of those occasions. Souza is too talented and too disciplined to look past Boetsch and not take this fight seriously.
He will look for the quick finish whether it’s on the feet or on the mat and look immediately for a title shot or a fight against another top contender, maybe a rematch with Luke Rockhold whenever he’s healthy after pulling out against Souza late last year.
Prediction: Souza defeats Boetsch in the first round via submission.
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