Within a matter of days, an absurd chain of events turned the most stacked card of the year into a potential dud. Luckily, two 5-round championship battles and several great fights salvaged the card from being a complete disappointment. One thing is certain, Khabib Nurmagomedov is well on the way to becoming the most dominant UFC fighter ever.
The UFC should prepare “alternate” fighters, in case of injury.
The lead-up to UFC 223 was undoubtedly the most chaotic ‘fight week’ in UFC history. It is unlikely that we’ll ever see another fighter injured in the manner of Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg, but the injury to Tony Ferguson perfectly demonstrates the need for an alternate/reserve fighter for all championship fights — at the very least. Notifying select fighters to be prepared in case of injuries to booked fighters would drastically decrease the number of fight cancellations. If Max Holloway was aware of a potential short-notice fight, he would have been much more prepared for the weight cut. Then again, NYSAC would still be incompetent.
Although Al Iaquinta proved to be a respectable opponent for Khabib Nurmagomedov, it is a shame that Ragin’ Al’s original bout with Paul Felder had to be sacrificed. Considering that the the Ferguson-Khabib matchup had previously been scrapped four times, it would have been logical for the UFC to reach out to Max Holloway or Brian Ortega in preparation for any worst-case scenarios. Ultimately, the main-event was a success for all parties involved, considering how things unfolded during fight week.
Magomedsharipov vs. Bochniak saved UFC 223 — Best fight of 2018
Last night, Kyle Bochniak turned in a career-changing performance. After four relatively uninspired performances to begin his UFC career, the 31-year-old seems to have really turned the corner and gained confidence. Facing off against Zabit Magomedsharipov, a fighter who is expected to be a title-contender for many years to come, Bochniak gave the rising star the toughest challenge of his UFC stint. Magomedsharipov finished his first two UFC fights by submission.
Although Bochniak does not posses elite technical ability, his athleticism, chin, and relentless motor could set the table for a respectable UFC tenure. Despite his 2-3 record with the promotion, Bochniak deserves a chance to prove himself against another high-level opponent.
Kowalkiewicz vs. Andrade?
With an impressive win over Felice Herrig, Karolina Kowalkiewicz once again proved that she is one of the best 115 lb. female fighters in the world. I believe that the winner of a potential fight between Kowalkiewicz and Jessica Andrade should face Rose Namajunas for the title later this year. In 2016, Kowalkievics picked up a split-decision victory over Namajunas (UFC 201).
Will Joanna Jedrzejczyk ever fight for the title again?
Following her stunning loss at UFC 217, Jedrzejczyk was rightfully booked for an immediate rematch with Rose Namajunas. Unfortunately for the former champ, she was once again outclassed by Namajunas. Although Joanna was obviously more competitive this time around, she will need to get back in line for another shot at gold. The women’s strawweight division currently features several worthy title-challengers, such as Kowalkiewicz, Andrade, and Claudia Gadelha. I would like to see Jedrzejczyk face the winner of the UFC 225 bout between Carla Esparza and Claudia Gadelha.
Khabib vs. GSP?
Nurmagomedov made quite a ruckus with his post-fight call-out of Georges St. Pierre. I’m cautiously optimistic for this fight. It’s very possible that we will never see GSP in the octagon again, but this would surely be a superfight worth his time. I assume that this fight between two of the most dominant MMA grapplers ever would go down as a welterweight (170) contest.