The UFC crowned its inaugural women’s featherweight champion at UFC 208 on Saturday night in Brooklyn, N.Y., but aside from the event being lackluster overall, it wasn’t without controversy.
Germaine de Randamie took a five-round unanimous decision over Holly Holm to with the 145-pound title, but en route to the belt, a couple non-calls by the referee left a cloud hanging over her achievement.
Following round two, de Randamie landed a big right hand after the bell as the referee was stepping in to halt the action. It happened again following round three, only this time, de Randamie landed a combination after the horn. The new champ was not penalized following either instance.
There has been a lot of debate about whether or not the shots were legal, who was at fault for the blows landing after the bell, and whether or not it changed the outcome of the fight. Even UFC president Dana White was critical of referee Todd Anderson, saying, “I feel like the ref from New York shouldn’t be reffing a main event fight. They don’t have enough experience. He should not have been in there.”
Holm was also critical, claiming de Randamie’s blows after the bell were intentional.
“She hit hard shots after the bell, those are the hardest shots I felt the whole entire fight,” Holm said at the UFC 208 post-fight press conference. “A lot of times, the first one they give a warning, that’s kind of normal. I wouldn’t expect them to take a point after the first one, even though it was intentional. The second time, at that point you think they’d do something.”
de Randamie has consistently proclaimed there was no intent to land any late shots, but on Monday, she posted to Facebook, offering Holm a rematch. The post has since been deleted from Facebook, but a copy remains on her management’s Instagram account.
“Woke up yesterday to a lot of support and a lot of controversy. I should be on the highest of highs right now, but after my long flight home to Holland, I couldn’t stop thinking about the events that took place last night and some of the critics trying to take away what should be one of the greatest moments of my career,” wrote de Randamie on Facebook.
“I want to say that it was a heated battle with lots of emotion, but I am not a dirty fighter. I have always trained to fight to the end or until the referee steps in. Never did I punch around or over the referee to deliver a cheap shot on Holly. I have nothing but respect for Holly and the UFC, and because of that I want to say right now that I think I owe it to Holly and the fans to do this fight again to make sure that the winner of this historic belt is crystal clear. Holly let’s do this again.”
What comes next for de Randamie and the UFC women’s featherweight division remains to be seen, although White, prior to UFC 208, seemed to think it was likely that Cris “Cyborg” Justino stood a good chance of finding leniency in her UFC anti-doping violation case, and could be the first challenger.