UFC 223 has got to be the only card in UFC’s history to witness dramatic events turn after turn. Khabib & Ferguson were booked to meet in the main event for the fourth time. But a week before Ferguson suffered a injury and had to pull out. UFC brought in the lightweight champion Max Holloway on a six day replacement to face khabib. UFC thought they fixed the the card and things were moving smoothly, until the announcement regarding Max Holloway’s health erupted declaring he was not fit to fight. Negotiations with Anthony Pettis to headline the event fell apart and they were left with no replacement. But it din’t stop there. McGregor’s impulsive bus attack where he smashed the window of the fighters bus, resulting in Michael Chisea & Ray Borg getting injured. Both their fights were scrapped. Dana White pulled out Artem Lobov from his fight for the involvement in the bus attack. But finally, UFC got a replacement with Al Iaquinta who was scheduled to fight Paul Felder on the same card. With so many changes in the card, we’re still left with few interesting match ups.
BEC RAWLINGS (7 -7) VS. ASHLEE EVANS-SMITH (5-3)
It’s a do or die situation for both these bantamweights who desperately need a win to keep themselves fighting in the UFC. Bec Rawlings has lost three in a row and now has her back against the wall and the tough Ashlee Evans stands in her way. Both these bantamweights have lost to top talent in the division despite their performances were noteworthy. Ashlee will rely on her superior striking and avoid the submission game from the Australian Bec. If Rowdy decides to stand and trade with the Rebel Girl, it will turn out into an exciting matchup.
KAROLINA KOWALKIEWICZ (11-2) VS. FELICE HERRIG (14-6)
Felice Herrig is on a roll with four exciting performances and wins to her credit in the last two years. In all her recent wins, Felice displayed tremendous improvement in her boxing skills. Her submission skills have been a major threat to the other strawweight’s in the past, but Karolina is altogether in a different league. Despite her two losses, she’s been in the top 5 bracket. The crème of the division – Namajunas and Joanna fight for the title. The winner between Karolina and Felice could very well get the next title shot.
ROSE NAMAJUNAS (7-3) VS. JOANNA JEDRZEJCZYK (14-1)
The co-main event features a rematch between the former champion Joanna and the only female mma fighter to defeat her – Rose Namajunas. This time weight cut issue won’t be the excuse Joanna would like to cite, as she looks on weight and ready to go. In the striking department both these women excel and have shown tremendous defence in avoiding the takedowns. Rose is much quicker and unpredictable with her striking. This is where she can cause some confusion with her movement and crack Joanna. The former champ has a high-volume rate of striking, which could come to her aid when she closes on the distance and has her opponent backed up to the cage – a situation Rose has never been put into. Infact, Rose hasn’t been stopped in the cage ever. Her only loses have come either by decision or submission. Joanna must do more than what she is capable of to put the critics back to their places.
KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV (25-0) VS. AL IAQUINTA (13-3-1)
It took almost a year for the bold and outspoken Yaquina to get a fight booked. Iaquinta stands just outside the #10 list and earlier got an unranked fighter – Paul ‘Irish Dragon’ Felder riding a three-fight win, all coming via KO/TKO. The unpredictable turn of events landed him the biggest opportunity of his life. Iaquinta has 54% KO ratio knocking out names including Diego Sanchez, Joe Lauzon, Ross Pearson and Rodrigo Damm. It’s a true test for Al who faces the ever moving and charging Khabib with a very low ratio of absorbing punches. Khabib will still try to take the fight to the ground ad the odds do favour the Dagestani Khabib. Despite the drama, Khabib looks unshaken but needs to be careful with the stroking of Iaquinta who looks in top shape and with the mindset of winning the belt.