Her long blonde hair was braided and pulled back into a bun that had become messy from the clench work during the fight. She had significant swelling over her left eye, and a gash above her eyebrow that blood steadily flowed from throughout the fight. Despite putting up a tough fight, the judges didn’t feel Holly Holm did enough to claim the title, and the decision left fight fans everywhere scratching their heads. Germaine de Randamie was crowned the first women’s featherweight champion.
They say, “never leave it in the hands of the judges,” and last night was an unfortunate reminder as to why. The judges declared a unanimous decision victory for de Randamie after a fight that was clouded with controversy. On two separate occasions, de Randamie continued to throw punches and elbows after the bell had rung, signaling the end of the round. Fans can understand how she could get off with a warning the first time, but for de Randamie to attack her twice after the bell is unacceptable. The referee should have taken a point away from de Randamie for her actions, and having done so could have dramatically changed the outcome.
The way a fight is scored is based off of things like striking, grappling, take downs, and octagon control. Holm was the more active fighter last night, controlling the fight a majority of the time, throwing more punches, pushing the pace, and grinding up against the cage. Holm also attempted more takedowns and was able to drain de Randamie by the end of the fight. Even with Holm’s best efforts, the judges somehow found de Randamie to be the champion.
Although de Randamie did land slightly more strikes (144 to Holm’s 122), they had nearly the same amount of significant strikes (de Randamie had 80 to Holm’s 77). Holm controlled the fight by holding de Randamie up against the cage for 8:15 of the 25-minute fight. Although on paper this fight may look close, things are not always as they appear. Holm being the more active fighter, who was nearly as effective in striking at de Randamie, should have won the featherweight title. At the very least, the referee should have taken a point away from de Randamie, which would have ended the fight in a draw.
Dana White, the president of the UFC, expressed his disappointment in the referee following the card on the UFC post-fight show. White raised a valid point as to why this referee may have allowed this to happen. UFC 208 took place in Brooklyn, NY, where MMA was legalized only a few months ago. The UFC doesn’t determine who the referees are, the commission does. So the referees who were assigned by the New York Athletic Commission are people who have way less experience in high-level fights.
The commission not only picks the referees, but they also pick the judges. There were a number of questionable and controversial decisions by the judges at UFC 208 besides Holm vs de Randamie. However, one of the judges is no stranger to controversy. Sal D’amato has a reputation for finding himself in the middle of controversial decisions.
Now sitting with three losses in-a-row, Holm can only look forward to the next fight. She must take what she’s learned in these last fights and apply them to what is to come for her in the future. No matter what, Holm will always be remembered as the one who dethroned Ronda Rousey on that November night in 2015, and she will have a permanent place in sports history. Her career is far from over, as she will look to fight her way back for another shot at the featherweight title.