UFC 223 Betting Recap

UFC 223 Results

At long last, Khabib Nurmagomedov has captured UFC gold. As a young boy in Russia, where he literally wrestled bears at the age of nine, ‘The Eagle’ dreamed of the moment he enjoyed Saturday night in Brooklyn.

After the most tumultuous week in UFC history, one that saw Nurmagomedov say “yes” to five different potential opponents, he defeated Long Island native ‘Ragin’ Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision (50-44, 50-43 twice) to become the UFC’s new lightweight champion in the UFC 223 headliner at Barclays Arena.

The new champ told Joe Rogan in his post-fight Octagon interview, “I want to say thank you to Iaquinta for stepping up and fighting. He is a real Brooklyn gangster. I want to fight the best. Right now, give me 30 minutes rest, let me drink a little water and I can fight with anyone. Doesn’t matter.”

Iaquinta was game from the start, but Nurmagomedov is undefeated for a reason. He mauls people. That’s what the first two rounds looked like – vintage Khabib. He executed early takedowns and went to work delivering punishment from the top.

Iaquinta, unlike many other recent victims of Nurmagomedov’s wrath, was able to get back to his feet. And in the last three rounds, Iaquinta began consistently stuffing the takedowns to keep the fight standing. Iaquinta generated his own offense, too, bringing the crowd to life when he landed several nice punches in the fourth round.

But ‘The Eagle’ wasn’t going to be denied on this night. Nurmagomedov showed off some excellent stand-up skills, repeatedly peppering Iaquinta with a stiff lead jab. Although Iaquinta certainly had some moments, touched Nurmagomedov up several times and was competitive throughout the bout, there was no drama when the bell sounded to end Round 5.

Nurmagomedov improved to 26-0 overall and 10-0 in the UFC. What’s next? Well, that all depends on what sort of discipline McGregor is looking at from the UFC, not to mention the Brooklyn authorities and whatever commission is going to sanction his next fight.

McGregor Melee shakes up UFC

McGregor is the obvious pick to face the new 155-pound champ but if that’s not possible, we might see a scrap with Tony Ferguson booked for the fifth time.

To borrow a piece of Chuck Mindenhall’s lingo, Rose Namajunas became “fully realized” with her UD win over former five-time women’s strawweight champ, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, by 49-46 scores from all three judges in the co-main event. ‘Thug’ defended her strap for the first time against the woman she took it from across town at Madison Square Garden five months ago.

Namajunas hooked up her betting supporters as a short -120 favorite. Gamblers taking the ‘over’ (3.5 rounds, -135) cashed tickets.

Namajunas made a mess of JJ’s face, although Jedrzejczyk used her kicking game effectively throughout the fight. In the end, ‘Thug’ was just a little bit better in this stand-up war.

Don’t be surprised if JJ jumps up to flyweight and immediately becomes a factor in that division’s title picture.

Seven of the nine fights on the card went the distance, including Renato Moicano’s UD victory over Calvin Kattar (30-27 twice, 29-28). Zabit Magomedsharipov defeated Kyle Bochniak in an instant classic that garnered Fight of the Night honors.

Joe Lauzon has been a fixture in the lightweight loop for more than a decade. The 33-year-old Massachusetts product squared off with Chris Gruetzemacher in the pay-per-view lid-lifter as a -150 favorite.

After a back-and-forth opening round, Gruetzemacher pieced up Lauzon in the second round. With what appeared to be a possible broken bone(s?) in his face, Lauzon’s corner rightfully threw in the towel and called a halt to the bout at the end of the second stanza.

In the prelims headliner, Karolina Kowalkiewicz beat Felice Herring by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) as a favorite in the -215 neighborhood.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier made quick work of Evan Dunham in merely 53 seconds. Aubin-Mercier cashed tickets as a short underdog by landing a pair of knees to the body that sent Dunham crumbling to the canvas.

Dunham lost for the first time since July of 2014, while Aubin-Mercier won his fourth straight to improve to 7-2 in the UFC.

Other winners included Ashlee Evans-Smith over Bec Rawlings in a women’s flyweight match and Devin Clark, who beat Mike Rodriguez by UD.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.