After one of the strangest weeks in UFC history — scratch that — thee strangest week in UFC history, we are being given a UFC 223 PPV event that looks a whole lot different than it did just a few days ago. We’ve talked about the whole Conor McGregor thing ad nauseam so how about we dedicate all of tonight to these fights.
UFC Lightweight Championship
Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0) vs. Al Iaquinta (13-3-1)
This fight was originally supposed to be Khabib versus Tony Ferguson for the lightweight title. It then became Khabib versus Holloway on 6 days notice due to Ferguson tripping a studio while fulfilling media obligations. Holloway was then forced to withdraw due to weight cutting issues on the day before the fight which led to the UFC looking at Anthony Pettis as a replacement. Pettis, who was originally supposed to fight Michael Chiesa on the card, would then be taken out of that spot which led Paul Felder to be the rumored replacement. Unfortunately, the New York Commission would not allows Felder fight for the title due to be unranked, which leads us to Iaquinta.
Although Iaquinta did weigh-in .2 lbs over the limit to be eligible for the lightweight title, he will still fight and a victory will certainly catapult him into a title fight for his next bout.
It was pointed out yesterday by Ariel Helwani that this match up comes 11 years to the date of Matt Serra’s TKO victory. You just can’t make this stuff up. If Iaquinta can upset Khabib all of the stars will have to be aligned; it will be right up there with Serra’s win as the greatest UFC upset of all-time. That said, Iaquinta is on a roll right now having won his last 5 fights dating back to 2014. He has the power to get it done but he does not have a chance if this fight hits the mat. Again, never say never. Especially after everything that has happened this past week.
UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship
Rose Namajunas (c) (7-3) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1)
Honestly, this fight should on last. This is the true main event of the night in my book and I don’t believe I’m alone when I say that.
Joanna has been using her weight cutting issues in previous fight during the build up to this one as an excuse for her TKO loss which should only fuel Rose even more here. She wants to leave her with no excuses. That said, was Joanna really not herself on that night? Was it all just a fluke? Joanna at her best is a scary proposition for any fighter but the champ will certainly be up to the task. Remember, Rose made her pro debut just 5 years ago and she’s improved each and every fight since opening up her career with 2 submission of the night finishes under the Invicta FC banner. This fight is absolutely bonkers and it could definitely go either way. Goosebumps will be popping up all over the place when these two make that walk. Don’t blink.
Renato Moicano (11-1-1) vs. Calvin Kattar (18-2)
Kattar will look to make it 11 in a row against a fighter in Moicano whose lone career loss comes to #1 contender Brian Ortega. This will be Kattar’s second time in the three hole here on a UFC PPV and Moicano’s PPV debut. This is a great spot for both men who will look to steal the show on this makeshift fight card.
Zabit Magomedsharipov (14-1) vs. Kyle Bochniak (8-2)
There’s a lot of hype behind Magomedsharipov and every single ounce of it is warranted. He’s 2-0 thus far inside of the Octagon with two Performance of the Night bonuses to his credit. They’ve been bringing him up slowly with his toughest test to date coming tonight in the form of former CES vet Kyle Bochniak. This will be a good test for Magomedsharipov as he continues his quest towards an inevitable shot at UFC gold. It’s not a matter of if with Magomedsharipov — it’s a matter of when. He is that good.
Joe Lauzon (27-14) vs. Chris Gruetzmacher (13-3)
UFC vet and future Hall of Famer Joe Lauzon kicking off a PPV is an absolute treat. The 25-fight UFC vet is one of the most respected fighters in the game and you never know when his career is going to come to an end. Lauzon has a ton of mileage on him at just 33-years of age but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous. Gruetzmacher comes into this one on a 2-fight losing skid so beating Lauzon is a must if he wants to remain employed by the top mixed martial arts promotion in the world today. That same rule does not apply to Lauzon, who will also come into the bout having lost his last two. When you have 15 career UFC bonuses to your credit like Lauzon you’re allowed to finish off your career here.
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