NEW YORK — Germaine de Randamie defeated Holly Holm by unanimous decision in a clinch-filled bout at UFC 208 to become the first featherweight champion in the woman's division.
The 32-year-old de Randamie (7-3) dropped to her knees in celebration as the Barclays Center crowd booed the end of a lackluster bout Saturday night.
UFC created the new 145-pound division in part as a showcase for Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino. Justino was the lone fan standing in the front row toward the end of the five-round bout. Justino's UFC fate is in limbo because of a doping violation that knocked her off the New York card.
A fight may not be on the immediate horizon.
De Randamie, a Dutch kickboxer who also fought in Strikeforce, said she needed surgery on one of her hands.
Holm (10-3) has lost three straight bouts since she became the first fighter to defeat Ronda Rousey in December 2015.
De Randamie rocked Holm with hits after the bell in two rounds. She clocked Holm with a right a tick after the horn to end the second round that sent the crowd howling. Holm shook de Randamie with a head kick near the end of the third. But de Randamie again hit Holm just after the bell and was walked to her corner with the referee talking in her ear. But she was never penalized for the late blows, crucial points that helped swing the decision her way.
"It was in the heat of the moment. I apologized," she said.
Like Holm, the 32-year-old de Randamie moved up in weight for the shot at the title in the first UFC pay-per-view in 2017. She might be the least-known fighter on the card. But she walked out a champ. She swept the cards 48-47.
"I came to fight and she didn't want to fight me," she said.
Holm may have fought in the main event for the last time in her UFC career. She heard unflattering comparisons all week to former heavyweight champion Buster Douglas, who was a one-hit wonder in the fight game following his KO of Mike Tyson.
Anderson Silva had one more big win left in the MMA octagon, an effective performance to beat Derek Brunson in the co-main event. Silva had the Brooklyn crowd clearly on his side, and his familiar dose of swagger and showmanship were on full display in a 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 victory.
Silva crouched in his yellow trunks, the crowd going wild for "The Spider," all hoping he could recreate the greatness of his prime. He landed a spin kick to the body in the first round that rattled Brunson but otherwise never came close to dominating the middleweight bout.
Silva dropped his longtime entrance song, DMX's "Ain't No Sunshine," for an original tune called "Doom" by his teenage son Kalyl.
"I'm the best ever," repeated one of the lyrics.
The 41-year-old Silva is certainly on the short list of all-time great MMA fighters.
Silva (34-8) was hit with emotion and appeared to choke back tears as he held a hand to his face. Chris Weidman, who ended Silva's dominant run in 2013, sat in the front row and nodded in approval as the sellout crowd chanted "Silva! Silva! Silva!"
"I know I'm too old to fight," Silva said.
Silva said he climbs inside the cage these days for love the sport and for his family and friends. Talk of future shots have faded into the background, and this victory over Brunson (16-5) certainly did nothing to prove he's up next for another crack at the belt.
"Everyone is telling me that I won. I feel terrible," Brunson said. "I took this fight on short notice and, to have this happen, is just crazy to me. I take this seriously. This is my job. I put everything into this and I got robbed."