Germaine de Randamie put her status as the top contender in the women’s bantamweight division beyond any doubt with a quick finish of Aspen Ladd at UFC Sacramento.
Sure, it was a finish that did not come without its fair share of dispute, but like many of the other controversies that have surrounded The Iron Lady in recent years, nothing can detract from the fact that she is an elite-level athlete.
Fans of mixed martial arts, in general, can be a fickle bunch. Often times we see one’s personal distaste for a certain fighter override any admiration they should naturally have upon witnessing them succeed.
Of course, the most famous example comes in the form of Conor McGregor’s ever-growing legion of detractors – who seem to be incapable of giving even the tiniest bit of credit where due. More recently, we’ve seen it with the former ONE and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, who in the eyes of some – was branded as a ‘bum’ after losing by way of an incredibly well-timed flying knee to a top-5 welterweight.
Such opinions are just part and parcel of the entire experience of being a fan of any given sport, but I would imagine that Germaine de Randamie is in a unique situation in the sense that she doesn’t exactly have too many people defending her at this point.
And it’s understandable, to a certain extent.
From having spoken to GDR herself, I can tell you that she is an incredibly positive and driven woman but as we all know, the public’s opinion of her has been damaged – perhaps even irreparably compromised by the events of her UFC 208 clash with Holly Holm and her unwillingness to accept a matchup with Cris Cyborg in the fight’s aftermath.
I’m not going to dive into that situation too much or my thoughts on it, but when de Randamie stepped in to take on Aspen Ladd in the UFC Sacramento main-event, she was already up against it.
— World of MMA (@CM_fights) July 14, 2019
Now, the manner in which the fight ended was unfortunate on both ends.
In my opinion, Ladd was saved from a lot of unnecessary damage after a horrendously brutal weight-cut by referee Herb Dean, but, when you start introducing external factors like that to a fight, you’re getting into a messy grey area.
And no, I don’t think that Dean was – he was likely just making the call as he saw it in real-time.
But yet again, we find ourselves in a position where Germaine is somehow not getting the credit she deserves.
It was a beautifully-timed right-hand shot and had the fight ended with a cleaner stoppage, I would imagine that people, on whole, would be more alert to one simple fact.
Germaine de Randamie is the biggest threat to Amanda Nunes at 135lbs right now.
Those who believe that nothing can change in six years will point to the original fight between these two women in 2013 and cite it as a reference point – which, in fairness, will be useful in some small ways.
But as we know, both are incredibly different and immeasurably better fighters now.
One look at the bantamweight top-10 will tell you that finding someone who can even trouble The Lioness will be very difficult but if we’re to think about that ideal candidate and their skillset, the technique, experience, and power of GDR make her the perfect fit.
At this point, I think a grappler with any sort of deficiencies on the feet will not be able to handle the power and pressure of Nunes and while Cris Cyborg was no doubt a solid pick at featherweight (and would still be in the rematch), she’s a pretty crazy fighter and her UFC 232 showdown against Amanda saw her dispatched in no small part due to her sheer recklessness.
De Randamie is an undefeated kickboxer – who held a perfect record of 37-0. She has the technique, the unmistakable ability to do damage and overall, her five-fight winning-streak since losing to the current champ back in 2013 has been conclusive proof of her ability to hang at the highest levels.
I’m not saying I’d favour her to win, but I also wouldn’t favour anyone who fights in the division right now.
It’s easy to take a look at Germaine’s past and even her most recent triumph and allow it to affect the way you judge her ability to do what she does best.
But when those octagon doors close, does any of it really matter?
Nunes vs. de Randamie II is the fight to make right now and while I’m not completely confident that the champion’s soon-to-be-legendary run will end, I definitely think that as far as underdogs go, The Iron Lady has all of the tools necessary to pull off an almighty upset.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena