Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats Al Iaquinta to become 10th UFC lightweight champion
It wasn’t the prettiest of fights, but it was a lot of fun.
With previously-announced opponents Tony Ferguson and Max Holloway pulling out of a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov in the space of a week, Al Iaquinta took up the unenviable task to face the Dagestan native for the UFC lightweight championship on just a day’s notice.
Khabib showed off his dominant wrestling style in the opening two rounds, perhaps sending out a message to his lightweight rivals – especially the aforementioned Ferguson and a certain Conor McGregor.
However, Iaquinta valiantly fought his heart out after gutting out two rough rounds. From the third round, Iaquinta had Khabib’s number in terms of resisting the Russian’s forceful takedowns.
On the feet, Khabib handily bloodied Iaquinta’s face with a piston-like jab, but Iaquinta was threatening with his strikes from his low stance.
With nothing to lose, the fifth round saw Iaquinta open up with his strikes. It’s worth remembering that Iaquinta was training for a three-round fight against a striker in Paul Felder, but he still looked fresh.
Though Khabib got caught with a number of strikes in the fifth round, this left Iaquinta susceptible to the takedown once again. Khabib seized upon those openings, taking Iaquinta down to the floor to beat him up and threaten with numerous rear-naked choke attempts to close the fight.
Khabib was deservedly awarded a unanimous decision win by the judges. And with that, he is the 10th man to become the UFC lightweight champion and the first to champion to hail from Russia.
Undisputed. Undefeated.#AndNew lightweight champion of the world | @TeamKhabib pic.twitter.com/BorwmI6QtZ
— UFC (@ufc) April 8, 2018
Rose Namajunas retains her UFC women’s strawweight belt against Joanna Jedrzejczyk
If there were any doubts over the validity of Rose Namajunas’ shock title win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk last November, there surely aren’t any now.
This time around, “Thug” Rose and Joanna went five rounds in an enthralling women’s strawweight championship bout, with the former earning the nod from the judges.
Joanna unsurprisingly started the fight more pensive than before, trying to measure her American opponent. However, Namajunas continually landed her left hook to keep Joanna on the defensive.
Namajunas’ early output was impressive. However, Joanna put in some good work herself: her stinging leg kicks seemed to have slowed Namajunas’ advances which, in turn, stopped her from closing the distance enough to throw her punches from inside the pocket which had proved so successful before.
Joanna’s work on Namajunas’ legs looked to have paid dividends as it allowed her to land combinations of her own. Going into round five, the fight looked like it could be won by either woman.
However, Namajunas came on strong and landed a number of thudding punching combinations, working on Joanna’s now-closed right eye, before punctuating the final 15 seconds of the fight by taking it down to the mat.
The judges all unanimously scored the fight 49-46 in favour of Namajunas, who made her first successful defence of her UFC women’s strawweight championship.
#AndStill undisputed strawweight champion of the world!@RoseNamajunas defeats Joanna again! Wow! #UFC223 pic.twitter.com/e4cYM69o3B
— UFC (@ufc) April 8, 2018
UFC 223: Nurmagomedov vs. Iaquinta full results:
Catchweight bout (155.2lbs): Khabib Nurmagomedov (c) defeats Al Iaquinta by Unanimous Decision after five rounds.
Women’s Strawweight bout: Rose Namajunas (c) defeats Joanna Jedrzejczyk by Unanimous Decision after five rounds.
Featherweight bout: Renato Moicano defeats Calvin Kattar by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.
Featherweight bout: Zabit Magomedsharipov defeats Kyle Bochniak by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.
Lightweight bout: Chris Gruetzemacher defeats Joe Lauzon by TKO (corner stoppage) after two rounds.
Women’s Strawwweight bout: Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeats Felice Herrig by Split Decision after three rounds. (Judges’ scorecards: 29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Lightweight bout: Olivier Aubin-Mercier defeats Evan Dunham by TKO (knees to the body and punches) at 0:53 of round one.
Women’s Flyweight bout: Ashlee Evans-Smith defeats Bec Rawlings by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.
Light Heavyweight bout: Devin Clark defeats Mike Rodriguez by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.