Dutch kickboxer Germaine de Randamie made history Saturday by winning the UFC’s newly created women’s featherweight title, but her victory didn’t come without controversy. En route to a unanimous decision at UFC 208 in which she topped American Holly Holm, 48-47, on all three judges’ scorecards, de Randamie twice landed punches after the bell had sounded.
Many observers thought de Randamie should have had a point deducted for the late shots, which would have resulted in a draw. In response to the criticism, directed at both the new UFC champ and the fight’s referee, Todd Anderson, she used social media Monday to offer Holm a rematch.
“Woke up yesterday to a lot of support and a lot of controversy,” de Randamie wrote, in a statement posted through her management firm, Suckerpunch Entertainment. “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.
“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,” de Randamie continued, “and because of that I want to say right now that I think I owe it to the Holly [sic] 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.”
Following her loss, Holm indicated that she’d be happy to do it again, saying the controversial result “warrants a rematch.” The former bantamweight champion added, “She started a little strong, and I felt like I had the better of the last three rounds. . . . The fight could have gone either way.”
An injury suffered during the match sent de Randamie to the hospital and caused her to miss the post-fight news conference, leaving no one to dispute Holm’s description of the late punches as not having been accidental. Holm agreed with a question asking if she had “lost respect” for her opponent.
“I wouldn’t expect them to take a point after the first one, even though it was intentional,” Holm said. “And then the second time, at that point you’d think they would do something. . . . It was intentional and it was after the bell. Those were some of her best shots of the whole night, were after the bell. I don’t know how the judges saw that, but if they see that as points for her, what can you do?”
De Randamie may not be able to do much in the immediate future, as she may need hand surgery to repair ligament damage suffered in an earlier fight and exacerbated against Holm. When she is able to defend her crown, her next fight may not be the rematch, but rather a showdown with the fighter widely viewed as the cream of the 145-pounders, Cris “Cyborg” Justino.
The fact that the UFC’s first women’s 145-pound match did not feature Justino came as a surprise, given that the Brazilian star had dominated that category for Invicta and had begun fighting for UFC at a catchweight five pounds lighter. However, UFC President Dana White revealed in December that a doping violation was keeping Justino out of the Octagon.
Justino blamed her failed test on a diuretic she had been prescribed by a doctor, and she told Fox Sports on Monday that she is applying for a retroactive therapeutic use exemption and feels confident in a positive outcome. She called a potential matchup with de Randamie “exciting” and said, “My team has been watching her for a while and I feel confident they see opportunities to exploit her weaknesses in MMA.”
For her part, Holm said, “I’m going to take what they give me.” She rocketed to fame after dealing Ronda Rousey the first loss of her career and winning the UFC bantamweight title in November 2015, but since then, she is on a three-fight losing streak in two weight classes.