Khabib Nurmagomedov Manhandles Al Iaquinta, Seizes Lightweight Crown at UFC 223

By Brian Knapp Apr 7, 2018

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s rise to power is complete.

The undefeated American Kickboxing Academy ace seized the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Al Iaquinta in the UFC 223 headliner on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Nurmagomedov (26-0, 10-0 UFC) pitched a shutout on the scorecards: 50-44, 50-43 and 50-43.

A replacement for Max Holloway, Iaquinta (13-4-1, 8-3 UFC) refused to concede defeat despite what at times felt like an untenable situation. Nurmagomedov spent the first two rounds securing takedowns, moving to advantageous positions and alternating between choke attempts and ruthless ground-and-pound. Through it all, Iaquinta survived. Nurmagomedov tested the standup waters in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, where he peppered the Serra-Longo Fight Team rep with jabs and uppercuts. He appeared to tire late but had more than enough in the tank to hold off Iaquinta, handing “The Ultimate Fighter 15” finalist his first loss in nearly four years.

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Namajunas Outduels Jedrzejczyk in Rematch

Rose Namajunas cemented her place atop the 115-pound weight class, as she retained the undisputed UFC women’s strawweight championship with a unanimous decision over Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the five-round co-main event. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 49-46 for Namajunas (8-3, 6-2 UFC), who improved to 2-0 in her head-to-head series with the Polish muay Thai machine.

Jedrzejczyk (14-2, 8-2 UFC) sputtered out of the gate and absorbed a steady barrage of clean left hooks from the champion. However, she turned the tide in the third and fourth rounds, where she zeroed in on Namajunas’ lead leg with repeated kicks. The appendage became swollen and discolored, reducing some the 303 Training Center star’s lateral movement. Namajunas showed her quality and resolve in Round 5. With Jedrzejczyk suffering from a badly swollen right eye, “Thug Rose” let her hands go and proved superior in the standup exchanges. She tied a bow on another victory with a brilliant tactical maneuver, surprising Jedrzejczyk with a takedown in the closing seconds.

Namajunas, 25, will carry a three-fight winning streak into her next title defense.

Carneiro Upends Streaking Kattar

Constrictor Team standout Renato Carneiro won for the seventh time in eight appearances, as he captured a unanimous verdict over Calvin Kattar in a featured featherweight confrontation. All three cageside judges scored it for Carneiro (12-1-1, 4-1 UFC): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.

Kattar (18-3, 2-1 UFC) had issues guarding his lower extremities. Carneiro scorched his legs with inside and outside kicks, the Brazilian’s efforts opening up other avenues for effective offense. He worked off of a steady jab, countered effectively and unleashed multi-punch volleys with both hands. Carneiro found another gear in the third round, where he staggered the Team Sityodtong rep with a straight right, snapped back his head with an uppercut and flurried at various times.

The loss marked the end of Kattar’s 10-fight winning streak.

Surging Magomedsharipov Sinks Bochniak

Former Absolute Championship Berkut titleholder Zabit Magomedsharipov continued his climb at 145 pounds, as he took a unanimous decision from Kyle Bochniak in a three-round featherweight feature. Magomedsharipov (15-1, 3-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 nods from the judges.

Bochniak (8-3, 2-3 UFC) was outgunned but refused to go away. Magomedsharipov tore into him with a stiff jab, brutal body kicks and a variety of spinning attacks. He integrated takedowns in the second and third rounds, adding another layer to his offensive attack while keeping the game Bochniak off-balance. Both men slowed noticeably in Round 3 but finished with a flourish, cutting loose with punches over the final 15 seconds and bringing the crowd to its feet.

Magomedsharipov, 27, has won 11 fights in a row.

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Gruetzemacher Brutalizes Shopworn Lauzon

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 22 quarterfinalist Chris Gruetzemacher battered and bloodied Joe Lauzon to a just stoppage in their lightweight showcase. Lauzon’s corner requested the stoppage in between the second and third rounds.

Lauzon (27-15, 14-12 UFC) started strong but faded midway through Round 1. Gruetzemacher grew increasingly effective against a stationary target, connecting with both hands and standing elbows. Lauzon had no answers. Gruetzemacher (14-3, 2-2 UFC) continued to pour on the punishment in the middle stanza, opening multiple cuts and leaving his counterpart with gruesome damage to both eyes.

The win snapped Gruetzemacher’s two-fight losing streak.

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