UFC 223: Khabib vs. Iaquinta Preview and Pre-Fight Stats

UFC 223

The fourth pay-per-view event for the UFC in 2018 will take place tonight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and Khabib Nurmagomedov has an opportunity to become the UFC lightweight champion when he faces Al Iaquinta in the main event of the fight card.

Iaquinta is the third opponent that Nurmagomedov has been booked to fight tonight over the last week as Tony Ferguson was pulled from the fight six days ago after he suffered a knee injury and Max Holloway was pulled from the event on Friday morning by the New York State Athletic Commission after he was deemed unfit to compete by a commission doctor.

Once Holloway was pulled from the fight, it appeared that Anthony Pettis would be facing Nurmagomedov. However, after he weighed in at 155.2 pounds and reportedly wanted more money to take the fight, the UFC turned to Paul Felder. While the UFC was ready to book the fight, the commission turned the fight down since Felder was not a ranked opponent and ultimately, it would be Iaquinta that received the matchup against Nurmagomedov.

Now whether you are a fan of Nurmagomedov or not, you have to give him props for taking this extremely short notice fight. I do not think anyone would have blamed him if he told the UFC that he was not going to fight after everything that has gone on the past couple of days. With that being said, I think nearly everyone believes that Nurmagomedov will walk out of the Barclays Center with the UFC lightweight title tonight, but it should be noted that today is the eleven year anniversary of Matt Serra’s upset of Georges St-Pierre and Iaquinta is trained by Serra and Ray Longo.

The main event is one of two title fights on tonight’s card as the co-main event will be a title fight rematch as Rose Namajunas will defend the UFC strawweight title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Their first meeting came back in November of last year and Namjunas shocked the mixed martial arts world when she defeated Jedrzejczyk by TKO. In the buildup of this fight, Jedrzejczyk has talked about the weight cutting issues that she believes was the reason she was unable to retain the title. During this week’s podcast, I mentioned how there was ultimately three reasons why she lost the title and I do wonder if she realizes that a main reason she lost the title was due to Namajunas abilities. This is a coin-flip fight for me and I do like the champion to retain her title and potentially set up a fight against Jessica Andrade.

When it comes to the rest of the card, there are two matchups I really like: Renato Moicano vs. Calvin Kattar and Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Felice Herrig. Both of these matchups are solid matchups and I like Kattar and Kowalkiewicz to walk out of their fights with victories. I am also interested to see if Zabit Magomedsharipov can live up to the hype that surrounds him, or will Kyle Bochniak spoil the hype train.

UFC 223: Pre-Fight Stats:
– Khabib Nurmagomedov has the 3rd best Strike Differential (+2.12) in UFC lightweight division history (Dustin Poirier #1, +2.36) – Minimum 5 UFC fights
– Nurmagomedov has the 4th best Significant Strike Defense (69.8%) in UFC lightweight division history (John Makdessi #1, 72.2%) – Minimum 5 UFC fights and 350 strike attempts by opponents
– Al Iaquinta is tied with Dennis Siver and Jeremy Stephens for the 4th most knockdowns landed (7) in UFC lightweight division history (Melvin Guillard #1, 13)
– Iaquinta has the 8th best Strikes Landed per Minute (4.95) in UFC lightweight division history (TJ Grant #1, 6.83) – Minimum 5 UFC fights
– Iaquinta has the 6th best takedown defense (84.8%) in UFC lightweight division history (Gleison Tibau #1, 92%) – Minimum 5 UFC fights and 20 takedown attempts by opponents
– Joanna Jedrzejczyk has the 6th longest average fight time (17:25) in UFC history (Dominick Cruz #1, 21:00) – Minimum 5 UFC fights
– Jedrzejczyk has the 3rd best Strikes Landed per Minute (6.76) in UFC history (Leslie Smith #1, 7.56) – Minimum 5 UFC fights
– Jedrzejczyk has the 2nd best Strike Differential (+4.28) in UFC history (Cris Justino #1, +4.84) – Minimum 5 UFC fights
– Joe Lauzon has the 3rd most submission attempts (29) in UFC history (Jim Miller #1, 39)
– Evan Dunham has the 8th most total fight time (3:39:05) in UFC lightweight division history (Jim Miller #1, 4:57:53)
– Dunham has the 10th most submission attempts (15) in UFC lightweight division history (Jim Miller #1, 38)

My UFC 223 Picks: Nurmagomedov, Namajunas, Kattar, Magomedsharipov, Lauzon, Kowalkiewicz, Evans-Smith, Aubin-Mercier, and Rodriguez