By Matt Koontz & Eric Jacinto
UFC 223: Khabib vs. Iaquinta: All right well I had my predictions done for the original card before Conor McGregor went crazy and acted like a thug or a child with a temper I am not sure which one is more accurate. All I can say is he is a disgrace and a pathetic excuse for a man. So I will keep my predictions on the website under this one but here are my updated projections for UFC 223’s new card. First off here are the fighters who are no longer on this card. Ray Borg due to glass in his eye from Conor, Michael Chiesa from lacerations due to glass thanks to Conor, Artem Lobov for being involved in the childish acts with Conor, those are the three fighters removed from being directly involved somehow by either being innocent bystander or in Artem’s case a moronic participant. The other fighters off the card are Alex Cacares who was supposed to fight Lobov and win, Brandon Moreno who was supposed to fight Borg in what would have been a great fight, and Anthony Pettis who was supposed to fight Michael Chiesa. Paul Felder is now off the card as well because Iaquinta moved up to the main event when Holloway was declared unfit to fight by NYSAC when they didn’t have a doctor make that decision which raises a lot of questions. Pettis was originally offered the title fight with Khabib to keep Felder and Iaquinta on the card but he was low balled by the UFC money wise for trying to save the main event. Felder then offered to take the fight but NYSAC is so dumb and said he can’t because he isn’t ranked on UFC.com’s rankings but is elsewhere including our personal rankings. Iaquinta according to NYSAC will not be fighting for a title shot only Khabib will be but that is because he weighed in at 155.2 lbs instead of 155 exactly with his underwear or shorts on. He didn’t need to use the towel because he wasn’t fighting for a title when he originally weighed in. Then went back to start hydrating and over an hour later found out he could fight for the title. If you ask anyone with common sense the underwear/shorts he was wearing would have been the .2 LBS and would have hit title weight without them. MMA fighters around the world were tweeting that but NYSAC has no brain cells and declared otherwise thankfully Dana White has a brain and said Iaquinta will be fighting for the belt regardless of NYSAC recognition as champion.
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Devin Clark (8-2) vs. Mike Rodriguez (9-2): This LHW fight could be a great fight but at the same time it could be slow paced and lack the excitement the rest of the card contains. I really like Mike Rodriguez’s fight skills as a Muay Thai fighter and the ability he has to KO an opponent or pick up a win by submission if needed. He hasn’t once in his career let a fight he has won go to decision and I believe he could be the aggressor in this one and if he is he will win this fight. His opponent Devin Clark missed out on an opportunity to make a big name for himself in his last fight in which he was submitted by Jan Blachowicz. Devin brings a lot of speed in his hands along with some impressive power when paired with his speed. If he can avoid the big shots from Mike and use his speed and power as a counter striking option, then he could win this fight and get himself a ranked fighter again. I am not really sure who will pull off the win in this one, but I feel the Muay-Thai skills of Rodriguez will be the difference and get a 3rd round KO.
#15 (14) Evan Dunham (18-6-1) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-2): This fight will take place in the lightweight division. Olivier is riding a 3-fight win streak and looking to get a number next to his name if he can pick up his 4th straight in arguably the most stacked division in the UFC. He is a durable fighter with the ability to take shots unfortunately for him his standup hasn’t proven to be a positive for him. His known strengths are his wrestling and grappling which he excels at. His opponent Evan Dunham is a BJJ black belt with no quit in him if he gets in trouble, he will never stop pushing for the wins. Evan does have some decent striking as he has picked up 3 KO’s in his professional career and has been working hard at becoming a complete fighter. I think this fight will go the distance and we could see a newly ranked fighter come Monday as I believe Olivier Aubin-Mercier wins by unanimous decision.
Bec Rawlings (7-7) vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-3): This fight in the flyweight division will be pretty interesting but should be the least exciting fight of the night just because of how stacked this card is. Ashlee is coming in on a 2-fight losing streak and will need to snap it and if she wants to do so she will need to be the aggressor and use her phenomenal ground and pound. If she can control the pace of this fight she will turn her bad luck of late around and grab a needed win. Now her opponent Bec Rawlings is probably fighting for her job in the UFC as she is coming in on a 3-fight losing streak and if she loses will have a losing record overall. Bec is an aggressive fighter but she has a good few holes in her fight skills and will need to have really worked and fixed them if she wants to remain in the UFC. Hopefully the weight-class change will help her and make her a better overall fighter. This fight will be interesting to see who turns around their bad luck though I take Ashlee Evans-Smith to win this one by way of unanimous decision.
#3 (4) Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2) vs. #6 (8) Felice Herrig (14-6): The main event of the televised prelims is going to be a great fight between two people who are championship fight bound with a win soon in the women’s strawweight division. Felice Herrig is riding a 4-fight win streak and I personally love what she brings to the UFC. She brings a fun, loving, positive attitude, of who loves her fans. She is a great fighter who sets up a fast pace and uses her great stamina to keep that pace tiring her opponents. Her nickname Lil’ Bulldog is appropriate because she is a feisty fighter who never backs down no matter how deep into trouble she is. She is a very well-rounded fighter with good striking and great wrestling. Now her opponent has been a title contender already and will be back there again some-day. Karolina is a very good fighter who is versatile enough to be able to handle a fight standing or on the mat. Karolina is a great fighter for the first two rounds, but she tends to slow a little towards the end of a fight and if this fight goes into the third she will find that her opponent doesn’t slow at all. This fight will really be a great one for the fans and a true test to both to see who is most ready for a title shot or a shot at Andrade for the title shot. I think Herrig wins this one in the 3rd round via submission.
Joe Lauzon (27-15) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher (13-3): The king of performance of the night bonuses will be in this lightweight bout, Joe Lauzon. Lauzon hates letting the fights go to decision and he will most likely be the same ol Lauzon in this one pushing the pace looking for his takedown shots. If Joe can get Chris to the mat it most likely will be over shortly as he has finished 17 of his 27 professional wins by way of submission. He has 6 Submission of the night bonuses just to show you how great his submissions are. Joe is coming off 2 straight loses and looks to turn it around and maybe pick up another performance of the night bonus like only he can. His opponent Chris Gruetzemacher will be looking to stop this from happening. Chris was a collegian wrestler and is now a jiu-jitsu fighter though his last two fights he lost by way of submission. If this fight goes to the mat I think he will be overwhelmed and out-classed as he will want to keep this one standing at all costs and look for a KO. This fight could be great or over quick. I think Lauzon gets a takedown though in round 1 and lands a RNC submission in the first round.
Zabit Magomedsharipov (14-1) vs. Kyle Bochniak (8-2): The featherweight division will be on display in this one. This will be a second fight for Bochniak in 2018 coming off a win over Brandon Davis. If Kyle wants to win this fight he will need to use his stand-up and close the distance and push the pressure. Kyle is a good fighter but he could be out performed by the incredible talent of Zabit. Zabit is someone to watch in this division as he has impressed me greatly since he entered the UFC as he has picked up 2 wins in as many fights with 2 submissions which were performance of the night winners. Zabit is a Wushu-Sanda fighter which is basically Chinese Kungfu. His incredible wrestling is well-known but isn’t his only skill set as he has just as many submission finishes as he does KO finishes and could do well in a standup fight. I got Zabit winning this fight in the 2nd round via submission after he lands a takedown.
#12 (11) Renato Moicano (11-1-1) vs. #14 (13) Calvin Kattar (18-2): The last fight before we get to the two title fights and it is a great fight between two ranked featherweights. Kattar is 2-0 since joining the UFC and has really made a great impression on us fight fans and shown he can improve just between his first and second fight in the UFC. Kattar is on a 10-fight win streak riding a hot hand as his striking skill set is really incredible. His ground game could use some work and his blue belt in BJJ will be really tested in this fight. He does have two submissions in his career, but I can also say with confidence he hasn’t fought an opponent as skilled on the mat as Moicano. Now Moicano hasn’t fought since his first career loss which came to Brian Ortega in a fight of the night showdown where he was submitted in round 3. Moicano is a BJJ genius and a Muay-Thai fighter, he actually teaches Muay-Thai in his gym. Moicano will be outmatched if this fight stays standing long and will be overwhelmed so he should find a way to get it to the ground quick and change the pace of the fight. Moicano hasn’t ever stopped a fight by way of KO/TKO and is facing one good striker who can cause him problems on the feet. I think this fight is really interesting for the bantamweight division and I see Kattar coming out the other side with his hand raised by way of 2nd round KO.
Champ: Rose Namajunas (8-3) vs. #1 (1) Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1): The Co-Main event of the evening has been a fight we have been waiting for since the original fight between the two ended. This is going to be the first time in her career that Joanna is coming into a fight off a loss and she is doing it to try and recapture her old title against the one person who dethroned her. It was a shock to many including Joanna, but it wasn’t to me because if you watch Rose she doesn’t waiver she doesn’t break she handles the pressure. Joanna needs to ignore the pressure, the fact that she can’t get into Rose’s head, the fans, and her own doubts if she has any. Joanna to win this fight will need to avoid the mat and use her Muay-Thai skills. If she can use her legs and power/fast hands she will be the champ again. She has to be the one to put the pressure on Rose and keep backing Rose down, the best Joanna is an aggressive Joanna. Now her opponent Rose is one of the most loveable human beings in the world of MMA. She is calm, patient yet aggressive, intelligent, a great heart inside and outside the octagon, should be a fan favorite because of the way she is and her fight skills alone. Rose is an aggressive fighter who’s striking skills have become so much better than they were when she originally entered the UFC. Now her ground game is the best in my eyes of all women in the UFC as she can submit people in her sleep, I’ve even seen her submit her boyfriend Pat Berry who has easily 100lbs on her in a training session before. If Rose can apply the pressure like she did in their previous fight and keep Joanna from setting up her striking she will walk out the champ still because then she can control the fight entirely. I think this fight could be one for the record books, but we will see the championship remain where it is and Joanna go up to flyweight following this fight. I have Rose winnings this one in the 4th round by way of a guillotine choke.
#2 (2) Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0) vs. #11 (11) Al Iaquinta (15-3): I think it is crazy to call Al a huge underdog as Khabib hasn’t faced anyone as aggressive, powerful, and skillful as a wrestler as Al is. I do love what Al brings to this fight but I still think Khabib has the slight edge and will win the lightweight title by way of 2nd round TKO.
- Matt Koontz
#UFC Division Rankings (Record) (C) Champion
FS1 Prelims Card:
Light Heavyweight Bout: Devin Clark, (8-2) vs. Mike Rodriguez, (9-2)
Prediction: Devin Clark via Split Decision
Women's Flyweight Bout: Bec Rawlings, (7-7) vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith, (5-3)
Prediction: Bec Rawlings via Unanimous Decision
Lightweight Bout: #14 Evan Dunham, (18-6-1) vs. Oliver Aubin-Mercier, (11-2)
Prediction: Oliver Aubin-Mercier via 2nd Round Submission
Women's Strawweight Bout: Karolina Kowalkiewicz, (11-2) vs. Felice Herrig, (14-6)
Prediction: Karolina Kowalkiewicz via 2nd Round TKO
Main Card on PPV:
Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon, (27-15) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher, (13-3)
Prediction: Joe Lauzon via 1st Round TKO
Featherweight Bout: Zabit Magomedsharipov, (14-1) vs. Kyle Bochniak, (8-2)
Prediction: Kyle Bochniak via Unanimous Decision
Featherweight Bout: #11 Renato Moicano, (11-1-1) vs. #13 Calvin Kattar, (18-2)
Prediction: Calvin Kattar via 1st Round TKO
Co-Main Event, Women's Strawweight Championship Bout: #1 Joanna Jedrzejczyk, (14-1) vs. (C) Rose Namajunas, (8-3)
Prediction: Joanna Jedrzjczyk via 4th Round TKO to become the UFC Strawweight Champion
Main Card, Lightweight Championship Bout: #11 Al Iaquinta, (13-3-1) vs. #2 Khabib Nurmagomedov, (25-0)
Note: If Khabib wins he's the Lightweight champion but if Iaquinta wins he is the unofficial Lightweight champion, it's a very confusing situation as Tony Ferguson is still known as the Interim Lightweight champion. As Matt said above NYSAC won't consider Iaquinta as champion but Dana White said he would be if he wins.
Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov via 2nd Round TKO to become the "Official" UFC Lightweight champion.