UFC 223: Fighter Preview & Predictions
UFC 223 is coming to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on April 7, with Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov battling it out in the headline fight. That’s not the only championship on the line though, as women’s strawweight champ Rose Namajunas will be taking on Joanna Jedrzejczyk. There will be a handful of undercards as well, so let’s take a look at what you can expect next month.
Men’s Lightweight Championship
Tony Ferguson V. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Those who watch The Ultimate Fighter should be familiar with both of these guys, who have been scheduled to face each other three previous times. The first time, Nurmagomedov was forced to pull out in 2015 due to injury, and Ferguson had to do the same the second time. The third time Nurmagomedov was hospitalized due to his dangerous weight loss routine, and it was rescheduled yet again. Ferguson’s reputation for being injury-prone belies his 23-3 record — though two of those losses were decisions and one was submission.
Nurmagomedov’s somewhat more impressive record is 25-0, evenly split with eight KOs, eight submissions, and 9 decisions. Ferguson enters the fight as the underdog, and we see no reason to doubt that; he will likely get dropped.
Women’s Strawweight Championship
Rose Namajunas V. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Jedrzejczyk’s first loss ever came against Namajunas last year, having previously beaten all comers and punching all of the vowels out of her name so convincingly that they’ve never returned. Humbled by the experience, she is expected to show up much more prepared this time around. Namajunas has no intention of letting her belt go, however, and her style of keeping the pressure up against an opponent who also likes to use her feet should make this an interesting bout. Our money is still on Jedrzejczyk, however, with her tactical style and high strike rate.
Lightweight Match: Al Iaquinta V. Paul Felder
Another rescheduled match, Iaquinta was originally supposed to take on Felder at UFC 218, but had to pull out due to injury. Iaquinta’s 13-3-1 record includes a comeback KO following a two year absence last April against Diego Sanchez, showing he hadn’t lost a step. Felder comes in with a 15-3 record, boasting 10 KOs in that time. This one is a little tougher to call, with Felder coming in a slight favorite.
The Best of the Rest
Calvin Kattar Vs. Renato Carneiro
Kattar boasts an 18-2 record, but his last loss was way back in 2010. Moicano, on the other hand, was dealt his first loss just last year. We’re taking Moicano.
Michael Chiesa Vs. Anthony Pettis
All we know is that you shouldn’t crack wise about Chiesa’s mama — dude about dropped Kevin Lee at a pre-fight press conference for the insult. Pettis is all business though, so we don’t expect that to be a problem — unlike his style. Pettis, while ranked lower, has the better technique, and therefore the advantage, even with Chiesa’s superior height and reach.
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