The UFC returned to Brooklyn for the first time since UFC 208 for UFC 223. The main event saw undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov take on last minute replacement, Al Iaquinta, for the undisputed lightweight title. Plus, in the co-main event, strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas took on Joanna Jedrzejczyk in their UFC 217 rematch. The card only saw nine total fights of the originally scheduled thirteen take place due to four cancellations. All nine fights were very entertaining and many performances stood out among the rest. Here are the five standout performances from UFC 223.
#1: Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Kyle Bochniak via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
This fight didn’t produce just one standout performances, both of these guys performed very well, earning fight of the night. Throughout the fight, Magomedsharipov connected with many hard shots that would’ve dropped anyone else. Kyle Bochniak ate everything shot and continued to come forward, throwing his own hard shots. Multiple times throughout the fight, Bochniak would drop his hands and come forward, sticking his tongue out and taunting Magomedsharipov. Both these guys let everything fly, swinging with hard shots and throwing hard and flashy kicks. During the last ten seconds of the fight, they both just bit down on their mouth pieces and swung for the fences. The last ten seconds of this fight looked very identical to the last ten seconds of Max Holloway vs. Ricardo Lamas at UFC 199.
#2: Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Evan Dunham via TKO (Knees and Punches) at 0:53 of Round 1
Evan Dunham is a veteran of the sport and he was going into a fight against the young and very talented Olivier Aubin-Mercier. The fight started and Dunham didn’t look bad. Dunham was landing well but eventually the momentum shifted in “The Quebec Kid’s” favor. Aubin-Mercier got Dunham in the clinch and landed a knee directly to the ribs that hurt Dunham badly. He connected with some hard punches until he threw another knee to the ribs that crumpled Dunham. Aubin-Mercier landed hard ground and pound to the covered up Dunham until the referee was forced to stop the fight.
#3: Chris Gruetzemacher def. Joe Lauzon via TKO (Corner Stoppage) at End of Round 2
Going into this fight, both fighters were coming off two straight losses and looking for an important win. The fight started and Lauzon came out swinging, connecting with good shots until he eventually gassed himself out. Once he was gassed out, Gruetzemacher took charge of the fight and was connecting with hard shots. He was going to the body and to the head, quickly bloodying Lauzon. In the second round, Gruetzemacher looked even better. He controlled the whole entire round, connecting with almost every shot he threw while Lauzon’s punches had nothing on them. The fight probably could have been stopped during round two, but the round concluded and both fighters went back to their corners. As soon as Lauzon got back to his corner, his team immediately called a stop to the fight awarding Gruetzemacher the TKO victory.
#4: Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Al Iaquinta via Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-43, 50-43)
What a week it was for Khabib Nurmagomedov. Coming into fight week he was focused on UFC interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson. He trained months for Ferguson’s odd style of fighting. Six days before the fight, Ferguson got injured and was forced out of the fight. He was replaced by UFC featherweight champion, Max Holloway. It seemed that all was going well until weigh in day came. The NYSAC deemed Max Holloway unfit to fight and pulled him from the fight. Nurmagomedov had three possible opponents that all looked like they were gonna step in to fight him. Eventually the UFC agreed to terms with Al Iaquinta to step in on one days notice to fight Nurmagomedov.
In rounds one and two, Nurmagomedov was able to secure multiple takedowns and dominate Iaquinta on the ground. Luckily for Iaquinta, he is pretty skilled on the ground and was able to easily defend every attempted submission from Nurmagomedov. Rounds three and four were much different as Nurmagomedov decided to stand with Iaquinta and give Iaquinta his best chance to win. During these two rounds, Nurmagomedov showcased his striking and out struck Iaquinta. There were a couple times that Iaquinta landed some shots that looked like they stunned Nurmagomedov, but he unfortunately seemed to have lost both rounds. In round five, it stayed on the feet for most of the round. Iaquinta landed very good shots that wobbled Nurmagomedov, but he was able to easily recover. Late in the round, Nurmagomedov landed a takedown that sealed the deal for him. He won the fight by unanimous decision and became the first Russian UFC champion.
#5: Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
The first time these two girls met was back at UFC 217 when Joanna Jedrzejczyk was still the queen of strawweight. Not many people gave Namajunas a chance and the only chance people assumed she had was to submit Jedrzejczyk. What happened next shocked the world. Rose Namajunas knocked down the champion twice, finishing her by TKO after the second time. Jedrzejczyk blamed the loss on the weight cut and asked for an immediate rematch to prove that she is still the champ.
Now they were set to rematch at UFC 223 in the co-main event. The whole entire fight was much closer than the first round as both girls landed good shots throughout the fight. It seemed that Namajunas won the first two rounds, but in rounds three and four, Jedrzejczyk started to look good. She was landing hard leg kicks that immediately left marks on Namajunas’ lead leg. Rounds three and four were most likely in Jedrzejczyk’s favor and going into the fifth round it was 2-2. Whoever won the fifth round would ultimately win the fight. Both girls recognized they had to win that final round and they both looked much more active during that round. Namajunas’ striking looked great in the fifth round as Jedrzejczyk’s leg kicks didn’t seem to affect her at all. Late in the round, Namajunas landed a takedown and stayed on top of Jedrzejczyk for the remaining seconds of the round, landing a few shots to her grounded opponent. When it was all said and done, Bruce Buffer announced and still as Rose Namajunas successfully defended her belt for the first time.
Next week the UFC heads to Glendale, Arizona as Arizona native, Justin Gaethje, takes on surging lightweight, Dustin Poirier. Plus in the co-main event, Carlos Condit returns to take on Alex Oliveira. Many exciting fights are scheduled to take place on the card next week, meaning there may be plenty of performances to look back on. So join me next week as we breakdown the five standout performances from UFC on Fox 29.
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