The UFC continues its transition into a new era with UFC 208 on Saturday night. New owners WME-IMG continue to slowly tweak the production, meaning that UFC 208 will be the home of a few interesting “firsts” for the promotion. On a negative note, Saturday’s pay-per-view will be the first numbered event since longtime commentator Mike Goldberg left the company after UFC 207. Goldberg, along with Joe Rogan, have been calling UFC fights together since 1997.
The other first, on a more positive note, is that the UFC will be crowning a champion in a newly created weight class, women’s featherweight (145-pound weight limit). They already have a women’s bantamweight (135-lbs) and strawweight (115-lbs) division. Former bantamweight champ Holly Holm will move up in weight and fight Germaine de Randamie for the inaugural championship.
The final first isn’t necessarily good or bad, and it could end up being a “last.” Mixed martial arts legend Anderson Silva will be in the co-main event, his “first” fight since being a last minute fill-in against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 last summer, after Cormier’s original opponent Jon Jones failed a pre-fight drug test. At almost 42-years old, every time Silva steps into the cage, it could be the last chance for fans to watch the man who in considered one of the very best pound-for-pound fighters of all-time.
If you’re looking to lay down some cash on the fights, or just wanna impress your friends with your thorough MMA knowledge, check out our predictions for UFC 208 below!
The official Fox Sports 1 undercard features four fights, with mostly relatively unknown fighters (we’re not even bothering with the UFC Fight Pass prelims). Here’s a quick and dirty rundown of who we think will prevail in the free fights.
Randy Brown (-135) vs. Belel Muhammad (+105) – Brown is a slim betting favorite, and sports an impressive 9-1 professional record. Muhammad has lost two of his last three fights, and likely needs this win to keep his UFC dreams alive. Additionally, Muhammad took this fight on short notice, which almost never works out well.
Prediction: Brown via submission, first round.
Ian McCall (-110) vs. Jarred Brooks (-120) – The bookies actually have neither of these fighters listed as an underdog, so expect a close fight either way. Interestingly though, McCall is 6th on the UFC flyweight rankings while Brooks is making his UFC debut. McCall (pictured below) has much more experience, having fought some of the best fighters in his weight class (Brad Pickett, Demetrious Johnson x 2, and Dominick Cruz).
Prediction: McCall via decision.
Islam Makhachev (-260) vs. Nik Lentz (+200) – Neither of these fighters crack the top 15 in UFC rankings in the crowded lightweight division. The more experienced Lentz may be a 2-to-1 underdog, and probably for a good reason. This will be Lentz’s 18th UFC fight (to go with another 20 non-UFC bouts), but he’s been horrible inconsistent since 2011. Meanwhile Makhachev has a 13-1 record. No upsets here.
Prediction: Makhachev via TKO, second round.
Wilson Reis (-550) vs. Ulka Sasaki (+375) – This is a weird fight. Reis, a prohibitive betting favorite, is ranked 5th in the UFC flyweight division. Sasaki, who is just 2-2 in his UFC career so far, isn’t ranked at all. We feel like the UFC really missed the chance to have a Reis vs. McCall bout (5th vs. 6th) on this card, which would have really propelled the winner into the title picture. Instead we get this.
Prediction: Reis via decision.