Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson is the fight which has been in the making for more than two years now. This fight has already been scheduled and cancelled three times in the past two years which makes this fight one of the most anticipated ones in the UFC history. The co-main event is a rematch for the women’s Strawweight belt between reigning champion Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. So lets have a closer look at the main, co-main and the other fights on the main card of UFC 223 to be held on April 7th at the Barclays center in Brooklyn, New York.
Main event, Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson: if there is one fight which the fans have been talking for the longest of time and has never taken place even after trying to make it happen, it is this. Each time the two fighters are scheduled to fight the stakes get a little bit higher. While the last time when these two were supposed to fight for the interim belt, this time it is for the undisputed lightweight championship title. Both these guys are definitely the top two lightweights in the world and have been at the top of the division for a very long time now. Given their long win streaks in one of the most talent rich division in UFC, it only shows how awesome these guys are at what they do. Tony Ferguson, the current interim champion is on a 10 fight win streak, which is the longest in this division’s history. Khabib Nurmagomedov, the challenger, is on a 9 fight win streak and is still undefeated in his professional MMA career. Both these guys are coming off impressive wins from their last fights. Stylistically too this is a very interesting matchup with Khabib being a control based fighter and Tony Ferguson being a scramble based fighter. John Danaher, one of the greatest BJJ coaches, on Joe Rogan’s podcast said about Khabib’s game “if Khabib gets you down, you are not getting up”. It is this imposing style of combat that Khabib has which makes him so fascinating to watch. He is also the toughest unsolved puzzle which Tony Ferguson will face inside the octagon on April 7th. And we all know Connor McGregor will be watching this fight very closely. Many including coach John Kavannah, already believe that this fight is jinxed and will get cancelled in the last minute. But for now, let’s just hope this time the fight happens without any more drama or anyone getting injured or not able to make weight, because if one more time this fight gets cancelled, every fan in the MMA community, Dana White and the UFC will give up it forever.
Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk: After Ronda Rousey, Joanna has been the most dominant female champion in UFC with five title defenses. She could have equaled Ronda Rousey’s record of 6 title defenses but Rose Namajunas had other plans for her. In fact, her loss to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217 last year was the first ever loss of her MMA career so far. Joanna got knocked out in the very first round and given the kind of excuses she has been making in the media it seems like she has not really been able to come to terms with her defeat yet. Following her loss, she blamed it all on her nutritionists. While she may have failed at equaling Ronda’s record of most title defenses, she has definitely surpassed her as the cockiest champion there ever was. Rose Namajunas on the other hand is anything but cocky. When questioned about her rematch with Joanna and if she was planning to knock her out again, she replied “you can’t paint the Monalisa twice”. After her first win over Joanna, Rose has grown increasingly confident in not only her skills but also in her abilities to beat Joanna all over again in a completely different style. However, after her win over Joanna, Rose made it clear that she does not want to give Joanna an immediate rematch. But the UFC eventually gave Joanna an immediate rematch probably because she has been the champion for a very long time. Whether Joanna really deserved it or not is debatable but Joanna has not given Rose the credit she deserves and has essentially pinned her loss to the brutal weight cut she had to make before the fight. Be that as it may, two back to back losses to the champion of the division means you are out of any championship talks for a long time to come. That’s the pressure that Joanna has coming into this fight. On the other hand, the new champion Rose Namajunas, will try and achieve the same result again and in the process prove that she is here to stay as a champion and build her own legacy.
Other matchups – UFC 223 promises some exciting match ups outside the main and the co-main event. Some of the other most notable names on that card are Al Iquinta, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Al Iquinta is currently on a five fight win streak and will be taking on Paul Felder in a Lightweight bout. Former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will be taking over Michael Chiesa in yet another lightweight bout. Both these guys are coming off losses from their last fights and will definitely try their best to avoid two in a row. Karolina Kowalkiewicz, former Strawweight contender and currently ranked number four in the division will be fighting Felice Herrig, who is currently on a four fight win streak. A win over a top 5 fighter of the division will also place her as a contender for the title shot next. All these little developments which happen in the non title fights essentially act as fuel in creating the background story of future champions who we don’t know yet. All in all, UFC 223 on April 7th should be a bombshell of an event. It has the potential of reshaping two weigh classes with a completely different champion and in the process introducing the new wave of talent which these divisions have been seeing for some time now.