She heard the boos, but she persisted.
Germaine de Randamie stood in the center of the octagon on Feb. 11 and gave her post-fight speech, despite the jeers from the crowd at a sold-out Barclays Center, smiling and waving as she was named the first female featherweight champion at UFC 208.
“It was a close fight,” De Randamie said. “In the third round, she caught me with a head kick. But I came to fight. She didn’t come to fight. I like to fight.”
De Randamie took down Holy Holm via unanimous decision in Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first-ever 145-pound title fight. All three judges scored the bout 48–47 in favor of de Randamie.
De Ramndamie came into the event with just three career wins in UFC and was quick to point out that this was the biggest opportunity of her career.
Holm, meanwhile, is now 0–3 in the octagon since her stunning victory over Ronda Rousey in 2015.
Holm’s game plan frustrated de Randamie throughout the early-goings of the five-round fight. The eventual winner frequently found herself pressed against the fence — taking a few well-placed knees from Holm – and the strategy drew its fair share of boos from the crowd.
De Randamie did her best to get an edge late in rounds, but the approach resulted in a pair of after-bell punches. She wasn’t docked any points for the miscues, another move that drew boos from the audience.
“It wasn’t meant for me to hit her after the bell,” de Randamie said. “It was a heated moment. I apologize. I’m not like that.”
De Randamie was asked about the possibility of taking on Cris “Cyborg” Justino in her next fight — one of the most dominant featherweights in mixed martial arts history, who was cageside during the fight — but said she will likely require hand surgery first.
“I want to fight everybody, and I will fight anybody, so we will see who is next,” de Randamie said.
De Randamie’s championship wasn’t the only surprise of the night. Former middleweight champion Anderson Silva recorded his first official victory since 2012 with a unanimous decision over Derek Brunson.
“I am so happy,” said Silva, who dropped to the ground when the scores were read. “I am so happy, because I worked very hard for this fight. I wanted to give my best for my fans and for New York.”
Silva’s win came with a bit of controversy as many observers scored the three-round fight for Brunson. The judges, however, scored it 29–28, 30–27 and 29–28.
According to Fightmetric, Brunson (16–5) out-landed Silva in total strikes 118–54 and picked up a pair of takedowns, including one in the final fight. Brunson was visibly frustrated with the decision.
“I took this fight on short notice, and to have this happen is just crazy to me,” he said. “I take this seriously. This is my job. I put everything into this, and I got robbed. It sucks.”
Brooklyn native Phillipe Nover couldn’t quite land his hits in the fight prelims, falling to Rick Glenn in a three-round, split-decision featherweight bought.
Nover (1–6 UFC) won the first round, but Glenn responded strong in the next two, stuffing the “Ultimate Fighter 8” standout into the cage and landing a handful of big-time elbows and knees.
“I think the first round was really close,” said Glenn, who secured his first Ultimate Fighting Championship victory with the performance. “I cut him and then he caught me with a couple of little kicks. It didn’t do any real damage. I think I won all the rounds.”
Two of the three judges scored the fight 29–28 for Glenn (1–1 UFC) who seized control down the stretch. As the seconds ticked down in the third round, Nover was clearly fading, struggling to keep his footing in the center of the octagon.
“He surprised me with his take-down defense, and he mentioned that I was a tough mother F-er after the fight,” Glenn said. “He told me it was a tough job and congrats and it was real respectful.”