The UFC will enter uncharted territory at UFC 208 on Feb. 11 in Brooklyn, New York, when Holly Holm squares off against Germaine de Randamie in the promotion's first women's featherweight title fight, according to UFC.com's Thomas Gerbasi.
The bout will present Holm with a shot to get back on track on a big stage. The 35-year-old—who turned heads with a vicious knockout win over Ronda Rousey at UFC 193—has lost two fights in a row.
After Holm secured the women's bantamweight crown thanks to her second-round knockout of Rousey, she was knocked from her perch atop the division when she squared off against Miesha Tate at UFC 196 in March.
Tate scored a win via fifth-round submission (rear-naked choke), and Holm's skid continued when Valentina Shevchenko bested her via unanimous decision at a UFC Fight Night event on July 23.
On the flip side, the 32-year-old De Randamie has scored back-to-back UFC wins following a November 2013 knockout loss at the hands of Amanda Nunes.
Since then, the Dutch striker has defeated Larissa Pacheco via second-round knockout at UFC 185 and Anna Elmose via first-round knockout at a UFC Fight Night showcase in May.
One notable missing piece of the equation is Cris Cyborg, who turned down two 145-pound fights, according to UFC President Dana White on the UFC Unfiltered podcast (via MMA Fighting, warning: NSFW language):
What's crazy about that is this: I offered Cris Cyborg a title fight at 145 pounds a month ago. She had eight weeks to get ready for it, she said she couldn't make the weight, said she couldn't make 145 pounds.
So then I offered her another 145-pound title fight for Brooklyn (UFC 208), she turned it down. She turned down two 145-pound title fights. One because she said she couldn't make 145 pounds in eight weeks, and Joe Silva's like, "If she can't make 145 pounds in eight weeks, 145 isn't the right weight class for her either."
In a statement to MMA Fighting, Cyborg said she turned down the fights because she almost died the last time she cut weight and is still recovering. She also responded to the news in a series of tweets on Tuesday:
Just 2 months ago there was no girls at 145 to fight. Now they have a girl who's 0-2 fighting for the belt just to disrespect me. When you don't have legit rankings you get 1-5 vs 10-0 for a belt. And you get people like me waiting for a division now on the outside. The worst part is I fought for the division. I didn't turn down I title fight I asked for a march date. 10 years no division and no respect.
While it's unclear what the rest of the card at UFC 208 will hold aside from the women's 145-pound championship clash, men's featherweight champion Jose Aldo said he will fight Max Holloway in Brooklyn after the 25-year-old clinched a third-round knockout victory over Anthony Pettis on Saturday at UFC 206.
"He's saying, 'Where's Aldo?' You have to talk to the UFC," Aldo said Monday, per MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz. "About the fight in February, I already knew that, I only didn't know who I would fight. It was between him and Pettis, whoever won the fight. It’s not something new. This fight will happen on Feb. 11."
If Aldo and Holloway can solidify their spots at UFC 208 along with Holm and De Randamie, fans should have plenty of reasons to get excited when the promotion makes its return to New York following a stellar show at Madison Square Garden for UFC 205.