UFC 223 Barclay Center Results and Recap
After a whirlwind of a week, UFC 223 finally took place at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY. Khabib Nurmagomedov pitched a shutout against a very game Raging Al Iaquinta and Thug Rose Namajunes proved her first win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk was a lot more than just luck. Let’s take a look at the nights two title fights.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is the new UFC Lightweight Champion
Surprisingly, after putting on a dominating performance, many fight fans and analyst criticized Khabib for what they saw as major holes in his stand-up. Even during the fight, the announcers were calling his mistakes out live on air. Although some of the assessments are valid and understandable, I do not want to take away from the outstanding performance put on by Khabib Nurmagomedov.
For one, I knew prior to the fight that Raging Al would be the toughest challenge of Khabib’s career. Al Iaquinta may be ranked #11 but that’s only because of his inactivity. Had Al not missed so much time the past few years, he’d be ranked higher in the division. Khabib fought a fighter that’s a lot better than the #11 ranking suggest. Al has wins over the #7 ranked Lightweight Kevin Lee and the #6 ranked Welterweight Jorge Masdival. He also has wins over Joe Lauzon and Diego Sanchez and was on a 5 fight win streak going into his fight with Khabib. He was a legit contender for “The Eagle”.
All that stated, Khabib Nurmagomedov pitched a 5 round shutout over Raging Al Iaquinta and he did it standing for more than half the fight. After two dominating rounds of executing his signature grappling and ground and pound, he then stood with Iaquinta for the majority of the remainder of the fight. I believe it was partly from Khabib slowing down a bit and partly from Raging Al doing a better job defending the take-downs.
It was Khabib standing up with Raging Al for so long that led to the criticism that had he done that with Ferguson or McGregor, he’d be in trouble. That is a fact, it would not be smart to stand 15 minutes out of a 25 minute contest with Conor McGregor or Tony Ferguson. Honestly, you have to believe there’s no way he would do that in a fight with either fighter.
It’s also a correct assessment that both Conor and Tony could have watched the fight and now feel confident in beating Khabib if they were given the same opportunities. On the same token, Khabib now has an opportunity to look back at the fight and know what to do in a match-up with Ferguson or McGregor. For both fights, he would need to execute his smothering grappling for 5 straight rounds or finish the fight prior to the final bell. He has good enough stand up to set up his take-downs but testing his stand-up for the length of time he did with Al would not be the best path to victory. Thankfully for Khabib, he now has further experience to prepare him for battle with both Conor and Tony.
With all that said, Khabib Nurmagomedov is well deserving of holding the UFC Lightweight Championship belt. He’s now 26-0 and he had the type of dominating performance you would expect from a championship caliber fighter. He did it against a guy that belongs among the top fighters in the division. “The Eagle” soared into Brooklyn and flew off with UFC gold. At this point, he’s the UFC Lightweight champion. However, he will not be fully recognized for being the best Lightweight in the world until he has beaten both Tony Ferguson and Conor McGregor. Those are two big mountains to climb but the highly talented Russian should not be doubted.
As for Raging Al, he deserves all the credit in the world for fighting “The Eagle” on one day notice. I still see him as a future contender in the division and he should only get better from here. Fighting Khabib on one day notice was nothing short of a once in a lifetime learning experience that will pay dividends to his continued development.
Thug Rose pulls off another Gangster Performance Inside the Barclay’s Center
After outpointing Joanna in the first two rounds, Jedrzejczyk adjusted well and started to take over the fight. Going into the 4th round, I personally felt that Joanna would have the advantage in the championship rounds. She proved that to be the case in the 4th by continuing the momentum shift and outworking Rose on the feet.
Going into the last round, it was 2 rounds to 2 and whoever won the 5th was going to be the winner of their rematch. I’m a huge Joanna fan and I was truly rooting her on going into the final round. With momentum in her favor, it felt as though she was 5 minutes away from getting her belt back. However, Thug Rose Namajunes did not let that happen.
After losing two straight rounds, Rose showed her championship heart in the 5th. Honestly, up until the last minute of the 5th round, I had the round basically dead even. Although Rose may have landed the more effective strikes, Joanna did out-strike her in the round. As I was watching the fight and round come to a close, I was saying for both fighters the time was now, someone had to let loose and take the fight. It was at that point that Rose went for a take-down on Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Rose landed that take-down and stole the round.
Bottom line, when it counted, Rose stepped up to the plate. I’m a huge Joanna fan and I cannot wait to see her return to the cage. I’m also a huge fan of Thug Rose and was thoroughly impressed with her performance.
Just to be clear on the fight as a whole, these two women fought their hearts out. It was a back and forth battle and both fighters stood in the pocket and traded blows throughout the contest. Both ladies showed up for battle and both left their hearts in the cage. Thug Rose just simply put an exclamation point on the fight by showing up in the 5th round, a round that mattered most.
The 115lb gangster is still the UFC Strawweight champion and she has now beaten the previously unbeatable Joanna Jedrzejczyk twice in a row. The road does not get easier from here, it looks as though her next opponent will be Jessica Andrade. To me, Andrade is the most dangerous 115lb contender in the division. That’s another huge fight for the UFC Strawweight division and I cannot wait for it to go down.
See full results from UFC 223 below.
UFC 223 RESULTS
- Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision (50-44, 5-043, 50-43) – for lightweight title (Nurmagomedov only)
- Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jędrzejczyk by unanimous decision (49-46×3) – for women’s strawweight title
- Renato Moicano def. Calvin Kattar by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
- Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Kyle Bochniak by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Chris Gruetzemacher def. Joe Lauzon by TKO (corner stoppage). Round 2, 5:00
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Felice Herrig by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Evan Dunham by TKO (knee to the body). Round 1, 0:53
- Ashlee Evans-Smith def. Bec Rawlings by unanimous decision (30-27×3)
- Devin Clark def. Mike Rodriguez by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)