UFC 223: Khabib vs Iaquinta Main Card Preview & Predictions

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Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta (Undisputed Lightweight Title)

Betting Odds: Khabib -500 or 1/7, Iaquinta +559 or 5/1.

This week has been turmoil for the UFC. Late last week Tony Ferguson the orginal opponent for Khabib suffered an injury whilst honouring media obligations. Ferguson tripped over a wire causing a tear to the ligament in his knee which requires surgery so he was immediately pulled from the event. Max Holloway the current UFC Featherweight Champion stepped in with only a week to make the weight.

The UFC 223 press conference was held Thursday after which Conor McGregor who was searching for Khabib Nurmagomedov in retaliation for an incident involving a fellow teammate did this.

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The bus was carrying Khabib Nurmagomedov as well as other fighters featuring on the UFC 223 card, McGregor’s attack resulted in two unaffiliated parties sustaining injuries, Michael Chiesa & Ray Borg. Neither will compete on the card this weekend due to their injuries.

Friday the weigh-in took place, just when you thought all the drama was done with Max Holloway fails to make weight with doctors deeming him in no condition to cut the extra pounds required to make the fight official. Meanwhile, McGregor attends a court hearing a few hours after the weigh-in fiasco.

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On Friday night it was decided after much deliberation that Al Iaquinta who was booked to fight Paul Felder already at UFC 223 will replace Max Holloway. Felder will be made to sit out this event with no opponent available, the main event match-up was understandably the main priority.

Al Iaquinta has been in and out of the sport, he’s had some problems with the UFC concerning pay. A real estate agent by day Iaquinta found no reason to risk his health for the monetary compensation he was receiving. Making enough money from his day job to support himself there’s been no desperation on Iaquinta’s part to fight regularly.

Iaquinta’s lack of enthusiasm isn’t correspondent of his ability, talent or confidence isn’t something “Raging” Al Iaquinta is short of. If money was an issue for Iaquinta this opportunity will open up the door to bigger cheques, especially if he impresses. A wrestling based martial artist just like Khabib but with a better striking arsenal, if Iaquinta can keep this fight from hitting the mat which isn’t outside the realms of possibility this fight could get really interesting.

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Khabib is the only constant in all of this week’s madness which is ironic because he himself has pulled out of fights previously with injury/health complications. Three different opponents Khabib has accepted to fight within the last week or so. We’ve seen other fighters (mentioning no names) refuse to accept last minute changes in opponent so credit must be given to both parties for accepting the fight in difficult circumstances.

Khabib’s fighting style is a chaotic storm, which is one of the reasons he’s so popular. Pressuring from start to finish his fights play out at an insane tempo crushing most fighters will by the end of the first round. He is yet to meet his equal, he’s undefeated in his professional career with a record of 24-0.

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No advantages either side in terms of preparation, Khabib & Iaquinta have both done a full training camp but only have 24 hours to formulate and execute a game plan, at the very least the conditions are equal for both. This fight is hinging on who adjusts better to the other’s style with little or no preparation.

Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk (Women’s Strawweight Championship) 

Betting Odds: Namajunas +125 or 5/4, Joanna -130 or 4/6.

In her own words, it’s going to be near impossible for Rose Namajunas to “paint the Mona Lisa twice” by surpassing her performance at UFC 217 when she did the unthinkable.

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Namajunas stopped Joanna early in the first round of the fight, putting an end to her dominant run as champion. Before that moment Joanna had hardly put a foot wrong in her 8 previous UFC fights which gave the finish it’s dramatic effect.

The nature of the finish has fans divided on whether Joanna simply got caught early whilst still relatively cold or if in fact, Namajunas is her kryptonite. The former champion agree’s with the fans who believe there was an element of luck involved openly calling the victory a “fluke”.

It was widely reported that Joanna Jedrzejcyk suffered a difficult weight cut which could have made her weak but it’s also common knowledge the weight cut is never easy for her so it could just be a convenient excuse.

Although the opinion is divided on the legitimacy of the victory Joanna’s skills are never in question, she’s a multiple Muay Thai world champion with the most fluid striking I personally have ever witnessed in women’s MMA.

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On the list of most significant fight’s in women’s history, this one is near the top. An ever-improving Rose Namajunas is aiming to solidify her previous win and dispell any doubters whilst the former champion is desperate for redemption.

The result of this fight will determine whether this is the beginning of a new era for the most exciting division in women’s MMA or a reaffirmation of Joanna’s greatness.

(Predictions) 

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta (Khabib TKO)

Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk (Joanna Decision)

Renato Moicano vs Calvin Kattar (Kattar Decision) 

Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Kyle Bochniak (Magomedsharipov Submission)

Joe Lauzon vs Chris Gruetzemacher (Lauzon Submission)

 

All video content belongs to UFC/Zuffa LLC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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