On Saturday night Holly Holm will look to join an elite class of fighters who have won a championship in two different weight classes.
Randy Couture, B.J. Penn, and Conor McGregor are the only fighters in UFC history to obtain championships in two different weight classes. At UFC 208, Holly Holm will hope to be the fourth fighter added to the prestigious list but she will have to get through Germaine De Randamie in order to do it. The fight for the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight bout will take place on February 11th at the Barclay’s Center.
Holm (10-2) rose to stardom after she became the first fighter to defeat Rhonda Rousey at UFC 193. She not only put an end to Rousey’s reign of dominance but she did so in devastating fashion by scoring a head kick knockout. Holm was an accomplished boxer prior to becoming a mixed martial artist with over 30 professional boxing matches on her record. Her title reign did not last long however, she would lose her first title defense to Miesha Tate just four months after winning it. Holm would go on to lose her next bout to Valentina Shevchenko via a unanimous decision. Shevchenko is now the number one contender for the bantamweight title.
Holm’s loss to Schevchenko came just four months after losing her title to Tate. Since her UFC debut in 2015, Holm has fought just about every four months. It will be just over six months she last stepped inside the octagon and we will find out if the time off and new weight class will put her back on the winning track.
As experienced as Holm was in the world of boxing prior to entering the world of MMA her opponent, De Randamie (6-3), has just as much experience in the world of kickboxing. She went undefeated in her kickboxing career recording 37 victories. She turned her attention to MMA in 2008 but did not start to get fights on a consistent basis until around 2011 when she joined Strikeforce. She would go 2-1 with them until they were bought out by the UFC. Since at the time there was not a featherweight division in the UFC, De Randamie had to fight at the bantamweight level. She would fight twice in 2013 going 1-1 and would not compete again until 2015. She only fought once in 2015 and once in 2016. The lack of consistent fights is the primary reason why fans were left with a feeling of confusion when she was named as Holm’s opponent for the inaugural featherweight championship.
The elephant in the cage will be the absence of what many consider not only the best women’s featherweight but the best women’s fighter on the planet, Cris Cyborg. Prior to the announcement of Holm vs. De Randamie a report came out that Cyborg had turned down multiple dates for a featherweight bout with the UFC. She cited the lack of time for a proper weight cut as the main factor for turning down the proposed dates. The UFC went ahead and announced that Holm and De Randamie would fight for the featherweight title and not soon after news broke that Cyborg was under investigation for allegedly testing positive for a banned substance.
Despite all headlines leading up to this event the bout itself should be filled with great stand up action. Both Holm and De Randamie are two of the most accomplished strikers in the UFC. A rested and newly motivated Holm going up against a fighter in De Randamie, who feels disrespected by fans questioning her worthiness, could lead to a classic stand up battle. Win or lose both women are set to make history on Saturday night.