UFC 223: Wild Week Ends with Nurmagomedov as New Lightweight Champion

2018 UFC Austin Octagon

After all the drama during the week, UFC 223 finally took centerstage in Brooklyn, New York. In the end, “The Eagle” takes flight as the new lightweight champion.

Khabib Nurmagomedov looked dominant as he was able to score a unanimous decision over late replacement Al Iaquinta in the main event. Nurmagomedov was in control throughout the five-round fight with his grappling and takedowns. Iaquinta survived by fighting out of the submission attempts and managed to land some strikes on Nurmagomedov. However, it wasn’t enough to do any damage to Nurmagomedov as he cruised to the lightweight title. Iaquinta didn’t leave empty handed, gaining much deserved respect for stepping in and putting up a fight on short notice.

Iaquinta was placed in the main event on Friday afternoon after featherweight champion Max Holloway was deemed medically ineligible to compete. Holloway stepped in to replace interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, who injured his knee making the media rounds earlier in the week.

Nurmagomedov is now the undisputed lightweight champion. Ferguson was stripped of the interim belt. Conor McGregor, who created all sorts of a mess during the week which we all know about by now, was stripped of the lightweight title.

“Now just one champion,” said Nurmagomedov, who improved to 26-0 in MMA. “No more fake champions. No champions who don’t defend the title. Now the UFC has a champion and this champion wants to defend his title.”

The co-main event featured a rematch for the women’s strawweight title between champion Rose Namajunas and challenger Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The fight was close in all five rounds, with Namjunas taking the first two by landing several significant strikes. Jedrzejczyk would then counter in the middle rounds with a flurry of leg strikes that would set up body shots on Namajunas. In the fifth and final round, Namajunas scored a late takedown and would eventually get the win via unanimous decision.

“I just kept saying I’m the best,” Namajunas said. “Just kept saying to myself I’m the best. I just kind of abandoned the game plan a little bit and just went out there and had fun and was just like, ‘Screw it, I’m just going to slug instead of trying to be quick right now, because it’s obviously not working.”

Needless to say, Jedrzejczyk was not happy with the decision.

“The numbers don’t lie. 142 to 84 and landed 132 strikes from me and 83 from Rose,” Jedrzejczyk said. “That’s the answer. I felt like I was winning the fight. The numbers don’t lie.  The significant strikes are telling the truth.”

It’s the second career loss for Jedrzejczyk, with both of those to Namajunas. Jedrzejczyk had previously lost the strawweight belt to Namajunas at UFC 217.

Another major strawweight battle took place during the prelims, with Karolina Kowalkiewicz getting the split decision win over Felice Herrig. The split decision was somewhat controversial considering how Kowalkiewicz was in control during the entire three-round fight.

The reason why this was big, despite being on the prelim card, is that both Namajunas and Kowalkiewicz have history together with Kowalkiewicz getting a split-decision win over Namajunas at UFC 201. Kowalkiewicz would later make a run at the title but eventually lost to Jedrzejczyk at UFC 205.

Namajunas wouldn’t mind a rematch with Kowalkiewicz.

“I’d definitely like to right that wrong,” Namajunas said. “I think she’s a great competitor, and I have a lot of respect for her, as well. At the same time, there’s a lot of strawweight competitors out there, but she’s definitely one on the list.”

 

UFC 223 Results

Main Card:

Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision

Rose Namajunas defeats Joanna Jedrzejczyk by unanimous decision

Renato Moicano defeats Calvin Kattar by unanimous decision

Zabit Magomedsharipov defeats Kyle Bochniak by unanimous decision

Chris Gruetzemacher defeats Joe Lauzon by TKO

Preliminary Card:

Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeats Felice Herrig by split decision

Olivier Aubin-Mercier defeats Evan Dunham by TKO

Ashlee Evans-Smith defeats Bec Rawlings by unanimous decision

Devin Clark defeats Michael Rodriguez by unanimous decision

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UFC 223: Rematch Between Namajunas and Jedrzejczyk Flying Under the Radar

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There’s been no shortage of drama as we approach UFC 223 on Saturday.

Interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson is out, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway is now in the main event to face Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed lightweight title. Ferguson was stripped of the interim title after suffering a knee injury while making the media rounds over the weekend. Holloway takes the fight on six days’ notice.

Conor McGregor will no longer be the lightweight champ once Nurmagomedov and Holloway step in the octagon. UFC president Dana White confirmed during Wednesday’s UFC 223 press conference that McGregor will be stripped of the title. He hasn’t fought in the UFC since November of 2016.

Lost in the shuffle of all of this madness is the rematch for the women’s strawweight title, which is setting up to be an instant classic.

Rose Namajunas shocked the world when she won the title in dominating fashion over Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 back in November. There was no shortage of trash talk leading into the fight, especially from Jedrzejczyk. However, “Thug Rose” kept her composure and scored the first round knockout to take the belt.

This time around, there hasn’t been much trash talk. However, the sound of silence doesn’t mean there’s no shortage of confidence coming from both sides. Jedrzejczyk wants her title back after a dominate run with the belt starting in 2015 when she won the title at UFC 185. She had successfully defended the title five times before the knockout from Namajunas.

“I was the champion for a reason,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I’m going to win the belt one more time and become one of the baddest female fighters in the world.”

On the other hand, Namajunas wants to prove that her win at UFC 217 was no fluke.

“All I need is to be myself and that’s all that matters.” Namajunas said.

What’s been the biggest difference for Namajunas now that she is the champion? When asked that question, she made a very unique comparison.

“I’ve got some new muscles,” replied Namajunas. “I have more knowledge but my spirit is the same. I’m like a tree. My leaves might change color but my roots are the same.”

Jedrzejczyk says she has already put the first fight behind her and is ready to make a statement in the rematch.

“I’ve changed as a fighter and you are going to see a second version of Joanna the champion,” Jedrzejczyk said.

To quote Holloway- “We’re going to find out Saturday night.”