HOLLY HOLM vs GERMAINE DE RANDAMIE
If you’ve followed the pre-MMA careers of Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie, it’s evident that the promotional tagline of best female boxer versus best female kickboxer isn’t hyperbole. The question is, will the two ladies vying for the featherweight title put the ground game to the side and say, “Okay, let’s throw?” We can only hope, because if they do, this has the potential to be one of the best fights, both technically and from a visceral point of view, that we’ve seen in a long time.
ANDERSON SILVA vs DEREK BRUNSON
If taking on light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier on two days’ notice last July didn’t make this abundantly clear, Anderson Silva’s decision to battle dangerous Derek Brunson on Saturday cements the legend’s legacy as one of the most competitive athletes we’ve seen in the Octagon. This is an interesting matchup to say the least, and no matter who leaves Brooklyn with the win, seeing the Brazilian icon do his thing on fight night is always a thrill.
RONALD “JACARE” SOUZA vs TIM BOETSCH
If “Jacare” Souza’s rematch with Luke Rockhold came off last year and he won, he might be staring at a middleweight title shot. Instead, he’s facing a hungry veteran in Tim Boetsch who knows that a win on Saturday allows him to skip the line into the title race. But can “The Barbarian” pull it off? Stylistically, no one needs to go to the ground with “Jacare,” but if Boetsch can goad the Brazilian into a standup battle, the playing field gets evened out quite a bit.
GLOVER TEIXEIRA vs JARED CANNONIER
Glover Teixeira isn’t the guy you want to see in your second fight at light heavyweight, but fighters are a different breed, and Jared Cannonier is most certainly a fighter. Just look at the third round of his win over Ion Cutelaba for proof. Teixeira is a nightmare matchup for anyone though, and despite his recent loss to Anthony Johnson, he can never be counted out of any fight at 205 pounds.
DUSTIN POIRIER vs JIM MILLER
This is the Fight of the Night call for many folks, and it’s hard to disagree. Dustin Poirier has injected new life into his career after moving back to lightweight, and despite a recent loss to Michael Johnson, his determination to win and get a title is unchanged. As for Mr. Jim Miller, it’s been nice to see one of MMA’s good guys resurrect his career with a three-fight winning streak, and when his aggressive attack meets Poirier’s, there will be a fight.
RANDY BROWN vs BELAL MUHAMMAD
This one may be a show stealer. Randy Brown went 3-1 in his first year in the UFC, and the kid from Queens makes the short trip to Brooklyn for a fight with the always exciting Belal Muhammad, who is the most impressive fighter out there with a 1-2 UFC record. The Chicago native could be 0-20 and I would still want to watch him because he always shows up to fight.
WILSON REIS vs ULKA SASAKI
Wilson Reis could have been fighting for a flyweight title last year, but an injury to Demetrious Johnson scrapped their bout. That seemed to have lit a fire under the Brazilian standout, who took less than two minutes to submit Hector Sandoval on the night he was scheduled to fight “Mighty Mouse.” Expect to see Reis in statement-making mode again on Saturday against talented Japanese vet Ulka Sasaki, who looked good in his flyweight debut last spring.
More on UFC 208: Holly Holm on brink of history | de Randamie, Holm look for career-defining wins | de Randamie, Holm finally get dream matchup | Fighters on the rise this weekend | Spider, Jacare help each other ahead of Brooklyn | Silva embraces Brunson challenge | Boetsch reveals secret to win streak | Watch: Fight makers talk UFC 208 big fights | Top 8 finishes by UFC 208 stars | UFC 208 Countdown: Holm vs de Randamie, Silva vs Brunson, Souza vs Boetsch | Under-the-radar fights to watch | Fight of the Night contenders | Don’t miss out! Be there, get your tickets | Order the PPV
NIK LENTZ vs ISLAM MAKHACHEV
Islam Makhachev is seen by many fight game insiders as a serious prospect at 155 pounds, and he showed flashes of that talent in his win over Chris Wade last September. But to prove that he’s ready for the best of the best, Nik Lentz is the litmus test in front of him on Saturday, and taking out “The Carny” is one of those assignments no fighter looks forward to. If Makhachev is the real deal, he has to get by Lentz, and that won’t be easy.
IAN MCCALL vs JARRED BROOKS
Finally, Ian McCall is back in the Octagon, and while a matchup against a virtually unknown late replacement foe making his UFC debut could garner a ho-hum response, Jarred Brooks has gone above and beyond the call of duty to pump this fight up and get into McCall’s head. Now everyone wants to see if the well-regarded Brooks can put his money where his mouth is.
JUSTIN WILLIS vs MARCIN TYBURA
Marcin Tybura got fight fans on their feet and cheering with his highlight reel knockout of Viktor Pesta last year, and that kind of reaction can be intoxicating, so we could be in for an aggressive attack from the Polish heavyweight when he faces Justin Willis, a late replacement newcomer whose AKA pedigree means that he is more than ready for his debut in the big show.
RYAN LAFLARE vs ROAN CARNEIRO
One of the more underrated matchups on Saturday’s card pits returning Long Islander Ryan LaFlare against Brazilian vet Roan Carneiro. It’s hard to pick a winner in this one, and I’ve got the feeling the judges will too after what is expected to be 15 minutes of back and forth action.
RICK GLENN vs PHILLIPE NOVER
It’s pretty cool to see a born and bred Brooklynite opening the first UFC event at Barclays Center, and you know that Phillipe Nover is fired up to represent the borough on Saturday. That doesn’t mean Rick Glenn will be intimidated by the atmosphere. The Midwest veteran has been the “bad guy” before, and he’s willing to walk through fire to get the win.