It has been a weird and wild week for the Ultimate Fighting Championship but the ill-fated UFC 223 fight card finally went down tonight from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Undefeated UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, now faced New York’s own Al Iaquinta for the official lightweight title.
The change in the main event occurred when featherweight champion, Max Holloway, was deemed unfit to fight during today’s early UFC 223 weigh-ins. Holloway himself was a replacement as the fight was originally supposed to be Nurmagomedov vs interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson. On Easter Sunday it was announced that Ferguson was injured and off the card.
Due to Iaquinta not making the 155-pound championship limit when he weighed in, because he did not know that he would be fight Nurmagomedov when he stepped on the scale, the UFC lightweight title will only be eligible to be won by Nurmagomedov. Should Iaquinta win, he would not be awarded the title, but if Nurmagomedov wins, he would be crowned the undisputed champion. Iaquinta was originally on the card against Paul Felder.
UPDATE: UFC President Dana White later said that the commission will not recognize the fight as a title fight for Iaquinta if he wins, however, the UFC would figure it out and that he can in fact win the title. We will see what happens there.
Iaquinta was riding a five-fight win streak with notable victories over Jorge Masvidal, Kevin Lee and Diego Sanchez. On Saturday, he got the biggest fight of his life in his home state against the most feared lightweight on the planet.
This fight was unbelievable. It started in favor of Nurmagomedov but Raging’ Al hung in there and somehow this fight went all five rounds. In the end, Nurmagomedov won the vacant title and is your new UFC lightweight champion.
Thug Rose retains
The evening’s co-main event featured a rematch between UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas and the woman she defeated to claim the gold, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. This fight between the two top 115 pound women in the world went all five rounds, a great treat for the fans. It could have likely been two round a piece going in to the fifth and final round. In the final seconds of the fight it was Rose that got a takedown but Joanna landing the strikes. Tough one to judge. Rose retains title by way of unanimous decision.
Renato Moicano defeated Calvin Kattar in a back and forth war, but it was Moicano who was the favorite going into the fight and he showed why.
UFC Hall of Fame inductee named
During the pay-per-view Jon Anik announced that pioneering television producer Bruce Connal has been named to the UFC Hall of Fame class for 2018 as a Contributor. With his selection, Connal becomes the fifth inductee of the UFC Hall of Fame’s ‘Contributor Wing’ and third welcomed posthumously. The 2018 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 5 in Las Vegas. The event will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS.
Fight of the night
Zabit Magomedsharipov and Kyle Bochniak put on a hell of a fight. WOW!!!! This will win fight of the night for sure. Magomedsharipov explained tremendous technique, Bochniak explained tremendous heart. This was a great fight.
Stop the damn fight
Joe Lauzon and Chris Gruetzemacher, both with their backs against the wall after coming off back-to-back losses, opened up the pay-per-view. Lauzon came on fast and strong, but then Gruetzemacher dug in towards the end of the round and took it to the longtime UFC Veteran. Lauzon now has significant swelling, bleeding, and he is wincing due to a cut near the eye. This is hard to watch. Gruetzemacher is tearing Lauzon up. Both his eyes are completely swollen, black and blue, and bloodied. The fight is stopped in between the second and third rounds.
Felice just one step behind Karolina
The number four-ranked and former strawweight title contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz met the surging Felice Herrig in the main preliminary bout on FS1. Kowalkiewicz and Herrig were not afraid to stand and trade with one another in round one. Then Kowalkiewicz attempted a rolling kneebar that did not work, ended up in full guard, and Herrig reversed, followed by the Polish fighter ending the round back on top. Felice did not look bad at all in rounds two or three, she was just a few steps behind the former title challenger. Then Felice threw a big shot that stunned Kowalkiewicz, but will it be enough? Karolina wins by split decision.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier made quick work of longtime UFC Veteran Evan Dunham with a 53-second TKO victory.
Rebel Girl victorious
Ashlee Evans-Smith made her organizational flyweight debut tonight against Bec Rawlings. No glove touch for this one. Evans-Smith used her size and strength since she was moving down from bantamweight to overpower Rawlings. “Rebel Girl” seemed to be the aggressor, landing more shots on the feet, and ended the first round with a takedown. Evans-Smith landed a spinning backfist, spin kick, and a flurry of punches and kicks to outstrike her opponent once again in the second round. So far Ashlee should be up two rounds to none. The last round again was a more dominant round for the flyweight newcomer and she steamrolled into a unanimous decision with more than 300 strikes thrown.
Decisive Devin Clark
Mike Rodriguez made his UFC debut tonight going up against Devin Clark who already had four UFC fights under his belt. The UFC newcomer Rodriguez found success early on with his powerful striking ability but Clark used his experience to weather the storm and finished out the opening round in a dominant position throwing down strikes of his own. Clark likely won the second round with a takedown and a few connecting combos but Rodriguez was not far behind. Clark continues to apply pressure in the third round as he gets him down and is relentless in keeping Rodriguez in a defensive position. Clark wins a unanimous decision.
Complete UFC 223 results below:
Main Card at 10pm/7pm ETPT
Main Event – Lightweight Title Fight
Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta via unanimous decision (50-44, 50-43, 50-43)
Women’s Strawweight Title Co-Main Event
Rose Namajunas defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Renato Moicano defeated Calvin Kattar via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Zabit Magomedsharipov defeated Kyle Bochniak via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Chris Gruetzemacher defeated Joe Lauzon via TKO – Round 2, 5:00
FS1 Prelims at 8pm/5pm ETPT
Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeated Felice Herrig via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Olivier Aubin-Mercier defeated Evan Dunham via TKO – Round 1, 0:53
Ashlee Evans-Smith defeated Bec Rawlings via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Devin Clark defeated Mike Rodriguez via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)