It can be easy for fans to poke fun and form strong opinions about things that happen, out of the ordinary on fight week. The incidents that happened at UFC 223 are still being spoken of and whether good bad or indifferent people in the fight game are expressing varying opinions on what happened and how it affected the brand and those that still had fights that night. It is stressful enough knowing that the all the media and weight cutting is leading up to a sanctioned and controlled violent competition at the end of that week, but when acts of violence happen outside the cage those involved in the event handle everything differently.
UFC 223 produced some great fights regardless of what happened with Conor McGregor and his attack on the bus holding all the red corner fighters. Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg received injuries that would have their fights canceled and Rose Namajunas was distraught, but was still able to earn a decision win over Joanna Jędrzejczyk but said she felt “heavy” after the fight and was likely distracted from the incident. She still won, but it seems she hinted at the madness of what happened may have thrown her off her game a bit.
Again, all fighters handle their reactions to such incidents differently. Ashlee Evans-Smith wrote on her blog that she was not affected by what happened leading up to the event. She wrote mostly about what was going through her mind leading up to her fight and how the flyweight division seems a good fit for her. Her only comment on what happened with McGregor and the incident with the bus was, “the events surrounding my fight were ridiculous and heartbreaking, but they did not affect me what-so-ever. Besides being moved from UFC’s Fight Pass to the televised portion on FS1, nothing about the madness of UFC 223 touched me,” said Evans-Smith. “I stayed focused on my job.”
In 2012, Ana Julaton who has competed in both MMA and boxing had a match in Argentina the same month as Casimero vs. Lazarte which resulted in a full-on riot because the fans were displeased with the result. Julaton was nervous about performing so soon after the incident according to her trainer Angelo Reyes when he was reflecting on UFC 223 during an interview with the Coast 2 Coast Combat Hour last week. “It was worse than the dolly!” Reyes said of the incident. Julaton performed well in her fight and he believes the chaotic formula may have had a role in Al Iaquinta’s performance in the main event as Khabib Nurmagomedov was not his original opponent.
Iaquinta seemed to find his rhythm in the later rounds but since he was not the original main event, fans did not see him winning but afterwards, a rematch with no chaotic drama during a potential future rematch might have Iaquinta come better prepared and more focused on the new lightweight champion according to an interview with TMZ after the fight. Iaquinta said if he had the training camp for five rounds and a different mindset, “it’d be a totally different fight.”
No one can control the actions of others and when chaos comes to fight week, anything can happen and mindsets have to adjust when it does.