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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


Royals Recap: Still Seeking First Win of 2018 after Loss to Tigers

Maybe it’s just slow getting out of the gate. Maybe it’s a warning sign of how the rest of the season may play out in Kansas City.

If you are the Royals, you are hoping it’s the first part of that sentence.

After starting out 0-2 in the opening series at home against the Chicago White Sox (Sunday’s game was postponed due to weather), the Royals were hoping a trip up to Detroit would get the ball rolling.

Turns out that’s not the case, at least not yet.

Starter Jason Hammel threw a solid game until the fifth inning, where the Tigers put four runs on the board and would cruise to the 6-1 win. The final line for Hammel reads five runs on seven hits in five innings. The righty kept the left-handed hitters at bay with his tailing fastball that rides from the middle-out of the zone but the bats on the right side came through in the clutch for the Tigers.

The loss drops Kansas City to 0-3 to start off the 2018 campaign and there’s plenty of indicators worth worrying about. The offense has yet to really put any fear into opposing hitters, the Royals lone run was a sac fly by catcher Drew Butera in the third inning. The pitching staff is one that needs top-notch offensive support to help erase mistakes.

Without both worlds possibly coming together, things can trend downward quickly.

The Royals will now turn to Jakob Junis to lead the team to the first win of the season on Tuesday afternoon. The righty is coming off a solid rookie season, going 9-3 with a 4.30 ERA. Junis also had strong spring, finishing 2-0 record with a 1.88 ERA in four Cactus League starts.

The Tigers will counter with lefty Matthew Boyd, who struggled against the Royals last season with a 6.32 ERA in three starts. First pitch is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. in Detroit.