The main card kicks off with Chris Gruetzemacher vs Joe Lauzon. Joe Lauzon had a solid first two minutes in the fight. After that Gruetzemacher took over, landing solid combos over and over. Joe Lauzon’s face was cut all over and both of his eyes were swelling shut. He was a mess and visibly had nothing left. Thankfully his corner threw in the towel after the second round. Chris looked good, the best I’ve ever seen him inside the cage.
The next fight was Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Kyle Bochniak, this fight was the definition of a barn burner. The ultimate brawl. The greatest test of wills I’ve seen in a while. Back and forth, momentum swaying from one man to another. These two men made a silent agreement to stand in front of each other and throw punches until one of them fell. It was an amazing fight. It ended up going to a decision with Magomedsharipov taking the win. It was a privilege to watch, thank you Zabit and Kyle.
Renato Moicano vs Calvin Kattar wasn’t quite the thrill Magomedsharipov/Bochniak was, but it was entertaining to watch. The first round was slow paced, nothing crazy. After that they decided to throw down, exchanging punches. Moicano was clearly the quicker of the two. Landing faster and more frequently, as he cruised to a unanimous decision win.
Finally, onto the first title fight of the night. UFC 223 has so far showed out and it’s about to get better. This is a rematch between Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC Women’s strawweight Championship. The first two rounds looked like they were going to Rose easily. She is piecing up Joanna’s face; her right eye is cut and swollen already. Rose is landing almost at will anywhere she wants.
Then round three, Joanna comes out strong. Finally zeros in on Rose’s leg, landing leg kicks whenever they present themselves. Rose’s leg is bruising fast, Joanna keeps the pressure up by landing combo after combo. Gaining steam Joanna stays on track, punch here, leg kick there and then the occasional smile. This goes on throughout round four as well, Joanna looking like a killer, blood running down her face just attacking Rose.
Down to the last round, with momentum all on Jedrzejczyk’s side, Namajunas comes out storming. She tracks Joanna down and starts unloading heavy shots. Joanna tries to answer back, but Rose won’t let up. Joanna starts to find their groove late in the round but it could be too late. In the final ten seconds; like a Max Holloway/Ricardo Lamas throw down, the two women start slugging at one another with everything they have. No defense, all heart, swinging to the end. All three judges see the fight for Rose Namajunas who retains her title in the best Strawweight fight I’ve ever seen. Thank you ladies. It was an honor to watch.
Now the main event, the one nobody thought would ever happen. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta. The fight starts out as everyone expected, Khabib shoots in for a takedown. ‘Raging’ Al surprisingly stuffs them and is landing great strikes on the feet. Right on cue, Khabib gets the takedown and starts mauling Iaquinta. The look of panic rushes over Al’s face. This continues for two more rounds. Al Iaquinta is being smothered and bloodied up by the ground and pound of Nurmagmedov.
Round four was Al’s best by far. He was able to keep the fight standing and land decent significant strikes. Throughout the round you can see the confidence of Al rising. Through the mask of blood covering Iaquinta’s face he is smiling with every strike he lands.
Not to be outdone like that, in round five it is Khabib who decides to strike with ‘Raging’ Al. For the most part Khabib is getting the better of the exchanges. Landing heavier and more consistent shots. Al Iaquinta is tired but he is still fighting, giving it his all. In the end though Al Iaquinta who took the fight on one day’s notcie, doesn’t have enough to take the win. Khabib Nurmagmedov easily gets the decision win, making him the new UFC lightweight champion.
All in all UFC 223 was a fantastic card. Magomedsharipov vs Bochniak, Kowalkiewicz vs Herrig and Namajunas vs Jedrzejczyk were amazing fights, all worth the price. It all ended with the coronation of Khabib Nurmagmedov becoming the UFC lightweight champion. Although there is two men who disagree(Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson). For right now the undefeated Dagestan fighter is the best lightweight in the world. I give the entire card an eight out of ten. Thank you to every fighter who competed Saturday night.
Image credit: MMAJunkie.com, MMAFighting.com