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Showtime's Steven Espinoza chides UFC, Conor McGregor following bus attack, UFC 223 card debacle

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Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza, Conor McGregor and the UFC did big business together last year, but their relationship since “The Money Fight” has been anything but peachy.

The latest example? Espinoza’s remarks on Twitter in the wake of McGregor’s melee at UFC 223 media day and the falling apart of the pay-per-view card that followed.

McGregor, who attacked and damaged UFC fighter buses with his entourage at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, surrendered to the New York Police Department on Thursday and faces two felony charges for criminal mischief and 10 misdemeanors. He could receive up to 11 years in prison for the felonies.

The rampage, which left multiple people (including fighters) injured, directly resulted in the cancellation of three fights, prompting UFC President Dana White to lash out at the 29-year-old star, who hasn’t fought an MMA fight since November 2016.

Espinoza chimed in on McGregor’s actions with a bit of sarcasm before responding to a Twitter user’s remarks.

So apparently there are people with invisible faces? https://t.co/dFeCTjifFx

— Stephen Espinoza (@StephenEspinoza) April 6, 2018

From the melee at Barclays he went straight to the Teterboro airport to attempt to flee the country….yet he's not a flight risk?

OK, bruh. Love it when people explain to me – a lawyer, BTw – how the legal system works. https://t.co/7BDBn3NoDQ

— Stephen Espinoza (@StephenEspinoza) April 7, 2018

More scathing, though, was Espinoza’s criticism of how the UFC handled the loss of its second UFC 223 main event in five days.

When featherweight champion Max Holloway was deemed medically unfit during weigh-ins to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title, the UFC was left scrambling to salvage the headliner. The promotion first couldn’t work out a deal with ex-champ Anthony Pettis. Then the New York State Athletic Commission, which is overseeing UFC 223, didn’t allow Paul Felder to be booked because he’s not included in the official UFC rankings.

RelatedWill Conor McGregor do jail time for bus attack? Ex-New York prosecutors say it's unlikely

So the UFC finally settled on Al Iaquinta, who meets Nurmagomedov tonight in the pay-per-view headliner. The only issue: Iaquinta is ineligible to win the title since he weighed in at 155.2 pounds for his previously scheduled bout with Felder, just slightly above the championship limit of 155.

However, White later declared Iaquinta eligible to become champion – sort of. Which is why Espinoza took the UFC to task.

“And they claim boxing is lawless,” he said. “Never heard a boxing match declared a title fight for both fighters even though one fighter failed to make weight. Congrats, UFC. You’ve far outdone boxing in terms of shadiness. But why bother adhering to rules when you don’t feel like it?”

Shortly after, Espinoza clarified his only issue is with White and the UFC brass with another insult.

RelatedDisappointed Paul Felder wants future main event to make up for UFC 223 scratch

“I have no issue with the fighters. None at all,” he said. “My issue is with the organization declaring that almost is good enough on a weigh-in. Hand grenades, horseshoes and UFC title fights…when almost is good enough.”

Espinoza’s remarks are the latest evidence of a falling out with him and the UFC. Espinoza and McGregor bickered earlier this year over numbers surrounding McGregor’s boxing match vs. Floyd Mayweather last August, which did big business but didn’t break pay-per-view records as White and McGregor bragged about.

Prior to that, Espinoza caught the wrath of McGregor on the May-Mac world tour when his mic was cut off during the first stop in Los Angeles, which “The Notorious” blamed on Espinoza.

It’s been all downhill ever since.

For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Gallery Photos: Conor McGregor's perp walk from Brooklyn jail following UFC 223 incident view 8 images

MMA's week out of the cage: UFC champs open New York Stock Exchange, Derrick Lewis' military visit

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Social media has become a significant part of the sporting landscape. But few, if any, professional sports match the level of interaction and personal access provided by MMA.

In an individual competition in which nearly every athlete is chasing the same goal of financial success and championship glory, it’s important for fighters to provide insight into their lives in order to connect with fans and gain followings.

Although the life of a fighter often can be mundane and repetitive, there still are moments of interest that take place outside the cage, ring or training room. Here are some of the most interesting of those occurrences from the past week.

* * * *

Easter celebrations

Animals of Instagram

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Bellator 196 post-event facts: Betting favorites produce another main-card sweep

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After some struggles in his first few fights with the company, Benson Henderson finally found the definitive victory he was looking for under the Bellator banner as part of Friday’s Bellator 196 headliner.

Former UFC lightweight champ Henderson (25-8 MMA, 2-3 BMMA) defeated Roger Huerta (24-10-1 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) by second-round submission in their main-event bout, which took place at BOK Hall in Budapest, Hungary, and aired on Paramount via same-day delay.

It was a crucial win for Henderson, and given his name value, one that should elevate his status in the 155-pound division. “Smooth” wasn’t the only one to get a victory of note on Friday, though. For more on the numbers to come out of Bellator’s fifth event of the year, check below for 20 post-event facts to come out of Bellator 196.

* * * *

General

Debuting fighters went 0-3 at the event.

Betting favorites went 4-0 on the main card. One fight did not have odds.

Betting favorites improved to 4-1 in Bellator main events this year.

Total fight time for the five-bout main card was 45:05.

Main card Gallery Benson Henderson def. Roger Huerta at Bellator 196: Best photos view 10 images

Henderson improved to 2-2 since he returned to the lightweight division in August 2016.

Henderson has earned both of his Bellator victories by stoppage.

Huerta was unsuccessful in his return to Bellator.

Huerta fell to 4-9 in his past 13 fights dating back to August 2008.

Huerta suffered the first true submission loss of his career. His previous submission loss was due to an injury.

Adam Borics (11-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) has earned eight of his 11 career victories by stoppage.

Borics earned just the second knockout victory of his career and first since Oct. 11, 2014 – a span of 1,273 days (more than three years) and eight fights.

Teodor Nikolov (11-2 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) has suffered both of his career losses by knockout.

Denise Kielholtz (2-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) earned the first decision victory of her career.

Petra Castkova (3-3 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) has suffered two of her three career losses by decision.

Brian Moore (11-6 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) has earned nine of his 11 career victories by stoppage.

Moore, who was victorious, has alternated wins and losses over his past five fights.

Giorgio Belsanti (7-7-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) has suffered all five of his career stoppage losses by submission.

Gallery Ed Ruth def. Ian Pascu at Bellator 196: Best photos view 11 images

Ed Ruth (5-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) earned the first decision victory of his career. He won all his previous fights by knockout.

Ion Pascu (17-8 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) has suffered six of his eight career losses by decision.

For complete coverage of Bellator 196, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Donald Cerrone vs. Leon Edwards official for UFC Fight Night 132 in Asia

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Gallery Leon Edwards def. Peter Sobotta at UFC-London: Best photos view 9 images

It’s official: Donald Cerrone and Leon Edwards are set to headline the UFC’s return to Asia.

MMAjunkie passed along news of Cerrone (33-10 MMA, 20-7 UFC) vs. Edwards (15-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) earlier this week, and UFC officials today made a formal announcement of the five-round welterweight fight.

UFC Fight Night 132 takes place June 23, likely in Singapore at a venue to be determined. It’s expected to stream on UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.

RelatedJessica Eye meets Jessica-Rose Clark at UFC Fight Night 132 in Singapore

In a recent interview with MMAjunkie Radio, Edwards said he hoped he’d get to fight Cerrone or Jorge Masvidal.

Cerrone is No. 13 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, and Edwards is unranked but steadily climbing up the division’s pecking order.

“Cowboy” Cerrone, a former UFC title challenger who’s racked up 13 fight-night bonuses, was recently stuck in a three-fight skid before rebounding in his most recent bout with a first-round TKO victory over Yancy Medeiros. The former lightweight, who lost to notables Masvidal, Robbie Lawler and Darren Till during his recent skid, picked up his 25th stoppage in 33 career wins with the Medeiros victory.

RelatedYancy Medeiros jokes after stoppage in 'Cowboy' loss: 'Where's Mario when you need him?'

Edwards, a 26-year-old Jamaican-English fighter, is currently riding a five-fight UFC winning streak, which included a third-round TKO victory (with one second left in the fight) over Peter Sobotta in his most recent bout. The former BAMMA champion’s only UFC losses came to Claudio Silva (split decision) in his 2014 promotional debut and contender Kamaru Usman (unanimous decision) in 2015. He now faces his most notable opponent to date – in his first UFC headliner.

The latest UFC Fight Night 132 card now includes:

  • Donald Cerrone vs. Leon Edwards
  • Nadia Kassem vs. Yan Xiaonan
  • Jenel Lausa vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
  • Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Jessica Eye

For more on UFC Fight Night 132, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Will Conor McGregor do jail time for bus attack? Ex-New York prosecutors say it's unlikely

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(This story was originally published on usatoday.com.)

Conor McGregor could face an upgraded felony charge of recklessness that increases the chance of his serving jail time and jeopardizes his ability to fight in the U.S. Or he could avoid any criminal charge with a good plea deal.

That was the range of possibilities presented by three former New York prosecutors who are criminal defense attorneys and spoke to USA TODAY Sports about the UFC’s stars legal trouble.

Julie Rendelman, a former prosecutor in Brooklyn, where McGregor was charged after attacking a bus at a UFC media event Thursday, noted that people sustained injuries during the incident.

“That’s the bigger issue to me,’’ she said. “If he used a weapon to injure one of the people in the face, that potentially could be upgraded to a felony.’’

RelatedConor McGregor's manager issues short statement, says client wants to fight ASAP after bus attack

McGregor, the MMA fighter, faces two felony charges for criminal mischief and 10 misdemeanors. He could face up to 11 years in prison for the two felonies, according to New York sentencing guidelines, but all three former prosecutors said it is unlikely McGregor will serve significant, if any, jail time.

“I can see him serving time,’’ Rendelman said. “But people do crimes in Brooklyn, in any jurisdiction in New York or anywhere that are potentially worse than this, and they get deals that allow them to not go to jail.’’

Two other former New York prosecutors said they think McGregor will strike a plea deal that reduces the charges to a single misdemeanor and possibly results in no conviction.

“But for his celebrity status, it’s just a run-of-the-mill case,’’ said William Kephart, a former prosecutor in Long Island. “People get into arguments and things get broken, fists are flying more times than not. …

“I would think given the fact that assault charges are misdemeanors and the most serious charge is criminal mischief, it’s unlikely he would face jail time.’’

RelatedOf course you can bet on Conor McGregor's potential lifetime ban and jail time

Steven Raiser, another former New York prosecutor, said the charges are “generally not too serious.’’

“The good news for McGregor is that the most serious charge is the property damage charge,’’ he said by email. “With no prior criminal history, this will be reduced as part of a plea.’’

The District Attorney’s office has six months to indict McGregor and present the case to a grand jury at before the case could potentially be dismissed, Rendelman said. McGregor’s next scheduled court date is June 14. Before then, the former prosecutors say, McGregor’s attorney is expected to initiate talks with the District Attorney’s office.

A key focus will be McGregor’s immigration status because any conviction could restrict the fighter’s ability to travel in the U.S., said the former prosecutors, who noted McGregor’s defense attorney likely will be working with an immigration attorney.

RelatedMMA manager Alex Davis' full account of Conor McGregor bus attack incident at UFC 223

Rendelman said the District Attorney’s office in Brooklyn generally is sensitive to immigration issues, but she also said, “Keep in mind, no one likes someone coming to Brooklyn and doing something that kind of damages the community. So that’s also something they’re going to take into consideration because there is some level of disrespect for him doing what he did and (it was) dangerous on top of everything.’’

Raiser said McGregor’s celebrity status could work in the fighter’s favor.

“Because he is a high-profile athlete, there is a lot of good he can do with the youth,” Raiser said. “If the DA is smart, they’ll work out a deal which will involve him giving back to the community.”

For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Josh Peter is a reporter for USA TODAY Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @joshlpeter11.

Gallery Photos: Conor McGregor's arraignment for UFC 223 bus attack view 11 images

UFC 223's Ashlee Evans-Smith wants to forget recent loss: 'It was crappy altogether'

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – UFC 223 provides a new opportunity for Ashlee Evans-Smith, who said her most recent fight was pretty “crappy altogether.”

Evans-Smith (5-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) meets fellow flyweight Bec Rawlings (7-7 MMA, 2-4 UFC) on tonight’s FS1-televised preliminary card. It precedes UFC 223’s pay-per-view main card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

However, in September, she admittedly underestimated Sarah Moras, who returned from a 26-month layoff and upset the heavily favored Evans-Smith. Even worse? She received an insult and an injury.

RelatedAfter a few signs, UFC 223's Ashlee Evans-Smith finally decided on flyweight

“I felt like I deserved a win; I trained so hard,” Evans-Smith said in a candid sit-down interview with MMAjunkie earlier this week. “(Moras) was coming off a long layoff, and I had analyzed her and critiqued her, and I just thought I was just a more well-rounded and a better fighter, and unfortunately I got submitted.”

An admittedly “stubborn” Evans-Smith didn’t immediately tap to the eventual fight-ending armbar. That further injured her dislocated arm, forced a longer layoff, and prompted her to seek platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.

Of course, there were also Moras’ post-fight actions, which rubbed 30-year-old Evans-Smith the wrong way.

“I didn’t realize I guess she also said some like controversial, mean-type things afterward – like she wanted to break my arm or something like that,” Evans-Smith said.

RelatedSarah Moras pulls off a submission so gross Daniel Cormier doesn't even want to see it again

Her reaction?

“Man, what did I do to you besides, like, come to work,” Evans-Smith said with a laugh.

It obviously was the finale to a forgettable evening.

“It was just crappy altogether,” she said. “You don’t get your win bonus and all that. Your stock goes down as a fighter. And people are like, ‘Oh, she’s on a losing streak now.'”

Check out the above video as Evans-Smith discusses the defeat, what she learned, and how it affected her mindset heading into a must-win bout against Rawlings tonight at UFC 223.

And for more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Sep 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Sarah Moras (red gloves) fights against Ashlee Evans-Smith (blue gloves) during UFC 215 at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports Sep 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Sarah Moras (red gloves) fights against Ashlee Evans-Smith (blue gloves) during UFC 215 at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports Sep 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Sarah Moras (red gloves) fights against Ashlee Evans-Smith (blue gloves) during UFC 215 at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports Sep 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Sarah Moras (red gloves) fights against Ashlee Evans-Smith (blue gloves) during UFC 215 at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports Sep 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Sarah Moras (red gloves) defeats Ashlee Evans-Smith (blue gloves) during UFC 215 at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s0.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/9aoB8xnW9BxTtbJatbcYdX/313007", customAnalytics: true, title: "Moras def. Evans Smith", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Conor McGregor's manager issues short statement, says client wants to fight ASAP after bus attack

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It can’t be an easy week if you’re Conor McGregor’s manager.

Audie A. Attar, who represents the troubled UFC lightweight champion (though he’s expected to be stripped of the belt tonight following UFC 223’s main event), today issued a statement.

In it, Attar says McGregor is a “great father” and “fiercely loyal friend” who “looks forward to getting back to fighting as soon as possible (via Twitter):

Statement about @TheNotoriousMMA pic.twitter.com/eQ0FvA3CT9

— Audie A. Attar (@AudieAttar) April 7, 2018

“So much rumor and misinformation about my client, Conor McGregor. The matter is in the hands of law enforcement and I cannot really say more. Conor is a great father, a fiercely loyal friend, and one of the best athletes in the world. He looks forward to getting back to fighting as soon as possible.”

However, that last plan – for a potential return to the UFC octagon – isn’t going to be so easy. McGregor was recently arraigned and bail was set at $50,000 due to multiple charges stemming from a recorded rampage Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., which hosts tonight’s UFC 223 pay-per-view event.

RelatedMMA manager Alex Davis' full account of Conor McGregor bus attack incident at UFC 223

McGregor, who attacked and damaged UFC fighter buses with his entourage, surrendered to the New York Police Department on Thursday and was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. He’s due back in court on June 14.

The rampage, which left multiple people (including fighters) injured, prompted UFC President Dana White to lash out at the 29-year-old fighter, who hasn’t fought an MMA fight since late 2016.

The future of MMA’s biggest and most bankable star now remains uncertain.

For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Gallery Photos: Conor McGregor's perp walk from Brooklyn jail following UFC 223 incident view 8 images

For once-jailed UFC 223 fighter Kyle Bochniak, MMA was key to turning life around

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Kyle Bochniak was looking to find something to keep him in shape and out of trouble when he started MMA training.

Considering Bochniak is now heading into his fifth UFC outing, which now happens to be on a pay-per-view main card after the re-shuffling of Saturday’s UFC 223, you could say it worked out well for him. But the sport, it turns out, did more than provide the 31-year-old with a livelihood.

“This just kind of saved my life,” Bochniak recently told MMAjunkie Radio.

While Bockniak is now on “the straight and narrow” and fully committed to advancing his MMA career, that wasn’t the case as he was growing up in Gloucester, MA., where his partying at a young age would eventually lead to trouble with the law.

“(I was) getting drunk, getting in fights, causing trouble, racking up stupid, petty charges in one summer,” Bochniak said. “I was really young, and I got sent away for a little bit, and I had to clean up my act.”

That’s when, looking around in jail, Bochniak realized it was time to make a change.

“Basically, I was 22 when I looked amongst my peers and stuff, and I realized, ‘This isn’t who I am. I’m throwing my life away,’” Bochniak said. “I was a high school dropout. I could have had a full scholarship, played football. I was always a gifted athlete. Anything I put my mind to, I could do. Just going down the wrong tube, hanging out with the wrong crowd.”

After serving his time, Bochniak left Gloucester to attend welder school and ended up falling into MMA. After he graduated, he returned to the Boston area, where he entered the Broadway Jiu Jitsu gym. He fit right in. From there, it was on to his first amateur fight.

“I won it, and I was addicted ever since and just wanted to continue on this path,” Bochniak said.

Bochniak (8-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) gets to take another step Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he meets fellow featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov (14-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC).

The fight was supposed to have been featured in the FS1-televised preliminary card but got promoted after Michael Chiesa was forced out of the card due to injuries suffered in Conor McGregor’s bus attack.

Coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Brandon Davis, Bochniak looks to get back-to-back wins for the first time in the UFC. He’s been on a see-saw of wins and losses since his debut in early in 2016 – when a decision loss to Charles Rosa snapped a 10-fight streak.

When you’ve led a trouble past, the ghosts might sometimes haunt you. But that’s not the case with Bochniak, who never looked back “once I got my act together.” He kept training. He kept fighting. He kept working. As a result, a career that started somewhat late, at 24, had already led him to the UFC by 30.

Out of some rocky times, Bochniak managed to make a pretty good path for himself. And he’s not about to risk straying from it.

“I won’t fight in the streets; I don’t even drink,” Bochniak said. “I don’t do anything anymore. I don’t smoke, drink, I don’t hang out with the old people I associated with. I’m on the straight and narrow now. And I think that just gives me more fuel and more aggression once I get in that cage and do what I have to do. It’s like my vice. I let it go.”

To hear more from Bochniak, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Gallery Photos: UFC 223 ceremonial weigh-ins view 27 images

UFC 223 main-event breakdown: Who wins Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta, anyway?

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MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of UFC 223’s top bouts. Today, we look at the new main event.

UFC 223 takes place today at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the main card will air on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1.

ALSO SEE:

* * * *

Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC)

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 29 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 70″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Edson Barboza (Dec. 30, 2017)
  • Camp: American Kickboxing Academy (San Jose, CA)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+ 2x world sambo champion
+ 2x Russian combat sambo champion
+ M-1 champion
+ 8 KO victories
+ 8 submission wins
+ 10 first-round finishes
+ Relentless pace and pressure
+ Improved striking game
^ Deceptively heavy hands
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Superb underhook awareness
+ Diverse takedown acumen
^ Chains attempts seamlessly
+ Excellent transitional grappler
^ 34 passes in 8 fights
+ Underrated guard and submissions
+ Powerful ground striker

Al Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC)

Al Iaquinta

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 30 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 70″
  • Last fight: KO win over Diego Sanchez (April 22, 2017)
  • Camp: Serra-Longo Fight Team (New York)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt
+ Collegiate wrestling experience
+ 7 KO victories
+ 1 submission win
+ 5 first-round finishes
+ Good footwork
^ Manages distance well
+ Solid boxing technique
^ Puts together punches well
+ Hard leg kicks
+ Excellent wrestling ability
^ Defensively and offensively
+ Good transitional grappler
– 2 fights in 3 years

Summary:

With the past week seeming like a never-ending news storm of insanity, we finally have a main event set for UFC 223.

Max Holloway, who initially stepped to face Khabib Nurmagomedov on just six days’ notice for injured Tony Ferguson, was not permitted to finish his weight cut by the order of New York’s state athletic commission. The UFC then scrambled to secure another opponent.

Despite Paul Felder smartly preparing for such a situation by making the official lightweight championship weight of 155 pounds on Friday morning, commission officials stepped in to halt such plans and said Felder was unfit to challenge Nurmagomedov due to his ranking – despite clearing a recently injured featherweight in Holloway just six days prior.

Now, Felder’s scheduled opponent, Al Iaquinta, steps in to challenge Nurmagomedov in tonight’s PPV headliner. And since Iaquinta did not make championship weight (according to the commission), the belt will be on the line only for Nurmagomedov, who looks to take the reigns of a division that’s in disarray.

RelatedDana White declares Al Iaquinta eligible for lightweight title at UFC 223 – sort of

As for the fight, I feel that is more interesting than meets the eye – or at least more interesting than the current state of hearts will allow us to humor.

Nurmagomedov is a one-way wrecking machine who has the ability to out-wrestle or out-grapple world-class competition at will, and he shows no signs of slowing down. However, Iaquinta, who also has a wrestling base, is a fighter who can do it all.

From submissions off of his back to striking on the feet, you will be hard-pressed to find a position that Iaquinta is not comfortable in. In fact, Iaquinta’s wrestling base allows to him to go for risky submissions like leg locks. But as good as his scrambling and positional awareness as he might be, I doubt that Iaquinta will be looking to engage in a grappling competition here.

Nurmagomedov, who needs only an underhook to get his game going, is not easily discouraged when it comes to having his shots defended.

Predicating his game off of said underhook, Nurmagomedov will typically force his opposition to the fence. And once he’s in close, it usually doesn’t take long for Nurmagomedov to get what he wants.

Whether he is hitting trips and tosses from the bodylock or going through his single-leg repertoire of high-crotch hoists to snap-downs, the Dagestani can do it all. Sure, Iaquinta is well-trained grappler under Matt Serra and knows how to scramble back to his feet, but Nurmagomedov is a master when it comes to transitional grappling, crushing his opponents’ spirits through unforgiving wrist-rides, looking to pick posts and collapse their base anytime they attempt to stand.

RelatedCoach Matt Serra: Al Iaquinta will 'shock the (expletive) world' vs. Nurmagomedov at UFC 223

Iaquinta’s best chances of winning this fight will undoubtedly be on the feet.

A natural striker, Iaquinta puts together his punches well, and you will seldom see him throw himself out of position. Effectively going forward or backward, the New York native will patiently prod shots while looking to get his rhythm.

Once establishing range, Iaquinta will seamlessly pick up his pace, especially when sensing his opponent is hurt. Whether he is using dutch hand-traps or clever feints, Iaquinta has a knack for finding his cleanup-hitting right hand, something that Nurmagomedov will need to be aware of.

The problem, however, is that Iaquinta – like most of Nurmagomedov’s opponent’s – will have little time to work. So, akin to the chances laid out in my Nurmagomedov-Holloway breakdown, Iaquinta will need to use his jab to sting (and hopefully) stun an oncoming Nurmagomedov, who tends to favor a shelling style defense.

The oddsmakers and public don’t seem to like the New Yorker’s chances, listing Iaquinta +500 and Nurmagomedov -700 (7-1 favorite) as of this writing.

Perhaps it’s because of the madness and fatigue that this week has caused, but I believe that this line is a bit too wide. Iaquinta, on paper, is arguably a better all-around ground fighter than Holloway (from what we’ve seen), not to mention the fact that he is also a natural lightweight who was actually preparing to fight tonight.

That said, I still have to agree with Nurmagomedov being favored to win. Nurmagomedov, though more hittable than many realize, has shown nothing short of an iron chin and unshakeable state of mind. Although I still favor layered styles like Ferguson’s to have a solid chance at beating the Dagestani, I’m not sure I see enough out of Iaquinta’s game to get the job done.

Related10 reasons to watch UFC 223, where the show goes on despite the most insane fight week

Don’t get me wrong: With this weekend holding the anniversary of his mentor Serra shocking the world with an upset victory over Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69, we could see history repeat itself here. And after the ongoings of this fight week, who would honestly be surprised to see the lightweight title – in whatever form it exists – in the hands of a disgruntled employee and fan favorite?

As much as I want to pick Iaquinta to achieve such a feat, I ultimately cannot dismiss the determination of Nurmgogmedov, who is so close to accomplishing his childhood dream of a world championship.

In the end, I’ll be siding with Numragomedov to earn himself a second-round stoppage after surviving a couple of close scares.

Official pick: Nurmagomedov inside the distance

For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Gallery Photos: Best of Khabib Nurmagomedov view 15 images

UFC 223 staff picks: Is anyone picking Al Iaquinta to upset Khabib Nurmagomedov?

MMA Junkie News -

 

Nurmagomedov
vs.
Iaquinta Namajunas
vs.
Jedrzejczyk Kattar
vs.
Moicano Bochniak
vs.
Magomedsharipov Gruetzemacher
vs.
Lauzon MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2018: 30-21
Nurmagomedov
(67%)
Namajunas
(53%)
Kattar
(69%)
Magomedsharipov
(90%)
Lauzon
(80%) Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2018: 32-19
Nurmagomedov
Namajunas
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Dan Tom
@DanTomMMA
2018: 31-20
Nurmagomedov
Namajunas
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Matt Erickson
@MMAjunkieMatt
2018: 30-21
Nurmagomedov
Namajunas
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Steven Marrocco
@MMAjunkieSteven
2018: 29-22
Nurmagomedov
Namajunas
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Ben Fowlkes
@BenFowlkesMMA
2018: 29-22
2016 Champion
Nurmagomedov
Jedrzejczyk
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Mike Bohn
@MikeBohnMMA
2018: 29-22
2014 Champion
Nurmagomedov
Namajunas
Moicano
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2018: 29-22
2015 Champion
Nurmagomedov
Jedrzejczyk
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Fernanda Prates
@nandaprates_
2018: 28-23
Nurmagomedov
Jedrzejczyk
Moicano
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Trent Reinsmith
@TrentReinsmith
2018: 28-23
Nurmagomedov
Namajunas
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Ken Hathaway
@kenshathaway
2018: 26-25
Nurmagomedov
Namajunas
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon John Morgan
@MMAjunkieJohn
2018: 26-25
Nurmagomedov
Namajunas
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon George Garcia
@MMAjunkieGeorge
2018: 25-26
Iaquinta
Namajunas
Moicano
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2018: 24-27
2017 Champion
Nurmagomedov
Jedrzejczyk
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon Abbey Subhan
@kammakaze
2018: 23-28
Nurmagomedov
Jedrzejczyk
Kattar
Magomedsharipov
Lauzon

The most last-minute shufflingest card in UFC history is here, and at long last, we still have staff picks for you.

UFC 223 will take place Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The main card will air on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1. The event had 13 fights on Thursday morning, but now will go forward with just nine.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) will fight Al Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC), and the winner will become the new lightweight champion. Iaquinta was supposed to open the main card against Paul Felder, but when featherweight champion Max Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) was declared unfit to weigh in Friday, Iaquinta ultimately was chosen as the replacement. The unbeaten Nurmagomedov is a heavy favorite, and only one of our 14 MMAjunkie editors, writers, radio hosts and videographers is picking against him to win the fight and finally become a UFC champ.

In the co-feature, women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) will take on former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) in a rematch from UFC 217, where Namajunas handed Jedrzejczyk her first loss to win the belt in a big upset. Jedrzejczyk is the favorite, despite being the challenger, but confidence in her has waned among our staff members. New champ Namajunas is a 9-5 pick in the rematch.

Also on the main card, Calvin Kattar (18-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) will fight Renato Moicano (11-1-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at featherweight and is our biggest favorite on the main card at 12-2 with our pickers. He’s just a slight -150 favorite in the fight against the Brazilian.

Zabit Magomedsharipov (14-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is the biggest favorite at UFC 223 at 7-1 in his featherweight fight against Kyle Bochniak (8-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC). Their fight was moved to the main card late Thursday from the UFC Fight Pass prelims after Michael Chiesa had to be pulled from his fight with Anthony Pettis. Not surprisingly, Magomedsharipov is a unanimous pick at 14-0.

And the new lightweight fight to open the main card is between Chris Gruetzemacher (13-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) and Joe Lauzon (27-14 MMA, 14-11 UFC), which moved up from the FS1 prelims. With Iqauinta fighting Nurmagomedov, Paul Felder (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) was left without an opponent. He’ll fight another day. But on this day, it’s Lauzon who is a unanimous pick.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Nurmagomedov, Namajunas, Kattar, Magomedsharipov and Lauzon are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Gallery Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217: Best photos view 20 images if(typeof(jQuery)=="function"){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)}; jwplayer('jwplayer_ix9Rhqc1_RbnemIYZ_div').setup( {"playlist":"http:\/\/content.jwplatform.com\/feeds\/ix9Rhqc1.json","ph":2} );

Of course you can bet on Conor McGregor's potential lifetime ban and jail time

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You can bet on just about anything these days, especially when it involves Conor McGregor – the biggest name (for better or worse) in MMA.

If you follow the MMA news cycle at all, you’re probably aware that McGregor got in some hot water this week, and now you can place a wager on how it’ll turn out for the UFC lightweight champion, who’s expected to be stripped of his belt tonight following UFC 223’s main-event conclusion.

Will McGregor be banned for life from the UFC? Will he receive a jail sentence? How much will the incident eventually cost “The Notorious”? As you can see below, you can literally bet on it.

As a quick refresher, McGregor was recently arraigned and bail set at $50,000 due to multiple charges stemming from a recorded rampage Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., which hosts tonight’s pay-per-view event.

RelatedMMA manager Alex Davis' full account of Conor McGregor bus attack incident at UFC 223

McGregor surrendered to the New York Police Department on Thursday night and was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. He’s due back in court on June 14.

The rampage, which left Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg injured and unable to fight tonight at UFC 223 (they were two of the four people reportedly sent to the hospital following the bus attack), prompted UFC President Dana White to lash out at the 29-year-old fighter, who hasn’t fought an MMA fight since late 2016 (though he had a PPV blockbuster boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather in 2017).

As McGregor’s fighting future remains a mystery, BetDSI Sportsbook is letting you make your best guess – and put your money where your mouth is. Here are the latest wagers and lines being offered:

Will Conor McGregor be banned for life from the UFC?

Yes +1200
No -2500

Will Conor McGregor receive suspension from the UFC

Yes -135
No -105

Will Conor McGregor serve a jail sentence in New York State?

Yes +800
No -1700

Length (days) of Conor McGregor jail sentence

Over 90 (+140)
Under 90 (-180)

Will Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov fight at UFC event in 2019?

Yes -160
No +120

Will Conor McGregor fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for a UFC title?

Yes -130
No -110

Total dollars New York incident will cost Conor McGregor (includes States fines, athletic commission fines, UFC fines, all court awarded civil and criminal damages)

under 50k (+1500)
50k to 100k (+1000)
101k to 250k (+850)
251k to 700k (+500)
701 to 1.5m (+250)
1.51m to 3m (+350)
over 3m (+600)
No damages to pay and no fines (+10000)

For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly seriously, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.

Gallery Photos: Conor McGregor's arraignment for UFC 223 bus attack view 11 images

CES MMA 49 highlights: Title challenger's face 'had definitely seen the ringer'

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When it comes to summing up fights, AXS TV Fights commentator Pat Miletich knows how to paint a picture.

Unfortunately for title challenger Jason Norwood (18-5), his face was the canvas as welterweight champion Chris Curtis (18-5) busted him up over five rounds to defend his CES MMA title in Friday’s CES MMA 49 main event.

“Norwood’s face looked like it had seen the ringer,” Miletich said.

CES MMA 49 took place at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., and the main card aired on AXS TV.

With his latest title defense, “The Action MMA” Curtis has now won five straight fights and eight of his past nine. And with an array of regional-show titles, the 30-year-old is likely to end up in the UFC octagon sooner rather than later.

In CES MMA 49’s co-headliner, Nate Andrews (13-1) submitted Chris Padilla (9-4) via second-round rear-naked choke to claim the vacant lightweight belt. It was his seventh straight victory – all of which have come via stoppage and all under the CES MMA banner.

Also on the card, welterweight Jeremiah Wells (3-1-1) needed less than a minute to knock out Gary Balletto Jr. (5-2), and flyweight Matt Almy (4-2) submitted Richiea Santiago (6-1) – after crippling him with a body kick – via 55-second d’arce choke.

Additionally, though not show in the highlights above, UFC and Legacy FC vet Sean Soriano (11-5) took just 81 seconds to tap out Jonathan Gary (13-10-2) in the main-card opener.

Official CES MMA 49 results included:

  • Champ Chris Curtis def. Jason Norwood via unanimous decision (49-45, 50-44, 48-46) – to defend welterweight title
  • Nate Andrews def. Chris Padilla via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:04 – to win vacant lightweight title
  • Jeremiah Wells def. Gary Balletto Jr. via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 0:57
  • Matt Almy def. Richie Santiago via submission (d’arce choke) – Round 1, 0:55
  • Kaline Medeiros def. Jenna Serio via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Marquis Brewster def. TaShawn Mack via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
  • Sean Soriano def. Jonathan Gary submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 1:21

For more on CES MMA 49, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Disappointed Paul Felder wants future main event to make up for UFC 223 scratch

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Paul Felder is stirring with frustration following his removal from Saturday’s UFC 223 lineup, and he’s torn about when he wants to get back in the octagon.

After Max Holloway was pulled from the main event against Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC), Felder (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) was one of the frontrunners to step in as a replacement. The New York State Athletic Commission ruled him out, though, because he’s an unranked fighter in the UFC’s official rankings.

Felder’s scheduled opponent, Al Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC), ultimately got the headlining spot, leaving “The Irish Dragon” as the odd man out. He described exactly how it all unfolded from his perspective, and how he’s now left in a bit of a pickle.

RelatedDana White declares Al Iaquinta eligible for lightweight title at UFC 223 – sort of

“I was the team at dinner, having some sushi and at first I was emotional and upset,” Felder told MMAjunkie on Friday. “Still feel that way, but what am I going to do? I made weight, so I’ll get my making weight money and stuff like that. I’ll be there. I’m still going to go and see this thing go down.

“Now I’m just scratching my head and, what card do I want to jump on? I booked all these commentary gigs. I’ve got like four of them lined up, but if I want to rush right back, and I’m in camp, I can’t do them. So I either just push my fight back and fight in September or something like that.”

UFC 223 takes place at Barclays Criterion Brooklyn, N.Y. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1.

Felder said it might take some time to collect himself for the next steps, but he has an idea of what he wants. He revealed the UFC is planning a trip to Milwaukee this year, and considering his training camp at Roufusport is located there, he said it would not only be fitting to be on the card – but to headline, as well.

“I know there’s rumors (the UFC is) going to Milwaukee,” Felder said. “I said to my manager, and it’s not that they owe me anything, but I feel they should at least give me another ranked opponent. I wasn’t really that high up on this card, because it was pay-per-view. I want a main event. Since I signed with UFC I wanted to main event something. So the way they can make it up to me is give me a good opponent, give me a five-round (expletive) fight, and let’s fight a five-rounder and headline a card and get my ass on a poster and let’s go.”

RelatedTwitter reacts to UFC 223 weigh-in that ended in Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta

Felder said that after not getting Nurmagomedov and losing his opponent in Iaquinta, he resigned himself to the fact he would not be competing on the card. Anthony Pettis is another fighter who was left without an opponent after Thursday’s Conor McGregor melee, but considering he’s teammates with “Showtime,” he said there was no chance of that happening.

“(Nurmagomedov) was the only possibility,” Felder said. “Me and Anthony have done this whole entire camp together. We’re not going to (fight). Of course, my management said it right away, if it was even asked. No way.”

For Felder, it’s difficult to walk away from the situation without feeling what could have been. The UFC’s arbitrary rankings don’t have him in the top 15 (the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie rankings have him No. 15 at lightweight), and he admitted that’s probably the most difficult part to get over.

“Unfortunately the official UFC rankings have me not in the top 15,” Felder said. “A lot of other ones have me in the top 15. Other guys, who know what they’re talking about, have me in the rankings. But not the official UFC ones. That’s what this weekend was all about, getting that number. If I was ranked in the top 15, I think I’m fighting Khabib for the championship tomorrow night.”

For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Gallery Photos: UFC 223 ceremonial weigh-ins view 27 images

Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington verbally spar at UFC presser, despite not being opponents

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Top-tier UFC welterweights Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman aren’t scheduled to fight each other any time soon, but that didn’t stop them from going a few rounds at Friday’s UFC 25th anniversary press conference in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) immediately fired back when Usman (12-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) weighed in on his upcoming interim title shot against Rafael dos Anjos (28-9 MMA, 17-7 UFC), which was moved from UFC 224 to UFC 225 in June.

“He doesn’t deserve a title shot,” Usman said. “Besides Demian Maia, who else (has he beat)? Nobody. And when I ask to fight him, he doesn’t want to fight me.”

“Keep using your time to promote me,” Covington replied. “That’s why you’re a mark, (expletive).”

RelatedUFC Chile headliners Kamaru Usman, Santiago Ponzinibbio face off for first time

That insult touched off a flurry of bickering that might have stood out more had it not come amid the most tumultuous period in the UFC’s promotional history.

Amid all the grudges highlighted at the press conference, and the crazy roller coaster that’s been the buildup to Saturday’s UFC 223, it was just another highlight clip to store when Covington and Usman actually fight.

When that happens is anyone’s guess.

For now, though, it’s all talk. Covington is getting his title shot, and Usman faces Santiago Ponzinibbio (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 129 in May.

RelatedDarren Till fires back at Kamaru Usman, and a heated Twitter beef ensues

To Covington, there’s a reason he’s not yet locked horns with his frequent antagonist. Ever the dutiful heel, he attacked Usman’s star power.

“You ain’t ready for primetime yet, son! That’s why you’re on digital cable, boy! I’m on pay-per-view! Sit your ass down, junior,” Covington said.

But for Usman, all the trash talk and tweeting belies a bigger truth – that Covington isn’t really willing to fight him.

“You weren’t talking all this trash backstage just now, were you?” Usman said. “You act real tough in front of the media.

“Everybody knows you’re fake. If there’s beef, we can do it. … You know you’re not about that life. You know that. If you were about that life, you would have hollered at me backstage just now. You not about that life. Talk tough up here, but you know I will finish you.”

RelatedColby Covington mocked Fabricio Werdum (as you'd expect) after UFC-London KO loss

“You just got dropped by a nobody in your last fight,” Covington shot back. “He’s not even ranked, and he dropped your ass. You had to wrestle-hump and (expletive) bore all these fans. That’s why you’re not on pay-per-view yet.”

“But I beat the (expletive) out of the guy that nearly took your life in the first round,” Usman replied, referring to mutual opponent Warlley Alves, who submitted Covington in the first round and dropped a decision to Usman. “You see that kind of tap that he did. That was a tap for dear life, because he was about to die in there.”

Undeterred, Covington ended the exchange with a dig aimed at Usman’s pride.

“You wish you had what I had, boy,” Covington said. “I’ve got zeros next to my bank account. You ain’t got nothing. You’re still fighting on prelims.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Gallery Photos: UFC 25th anniversary press conference face-offs view 8 images

Bellator 196 highlights: Benson Henderson finishes, but Adam Borics' flying knee steals show

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After a pair of split-decision losses, Benson Henderson is back in the win column – and he picked up a finish in the process.

In the headliner of Friday’s Bellator 196 event, Henderson (25-8 MMA, 2-3 BMMA), a former UFC lightweight champion who had a rocky road after joining Bellator in 2016, reclaimed some of his former glory after tapping out fellow big-show vet Roger Huerta (24-10 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) via second-round guillotine.

RelatedBellator 196 results: Benson Henderson keeps word, finishes Roger Huerta

The lightweight bout closed out the card, which took place at BOK Hall in Budapest, Hungary, and aired on Paramount via same-day delay.

In Bellator 196’s co-headliner, featherweight and Hungarian crowd favorite Adam Borics (7-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) starched promotional newcomer Teodor Nikolov (11-2 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) with a crushing flying-knee knockout.

RelatedVideo: Holy moly, this Adam Borics flying-knee knockout at Bellator 196 is hellacious

Also on the card, Dutch kickboxing champ Denise Kielholtz (2-1 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) topped fellow female flyweight Petra Castkova (3-3 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) via unanimous decision, and featherweight Brian Moore (11-6 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) evened up his Bellator record after stunning Giorgio Belsanti (7-7-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) with a punch and then finishing him with a first-round guillotine.

Additionally, Ed Ruth (5-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA), a three-time NCAA Division I national wrestling champion and now top MMA prospect, went the distance for the first time in his career and topped Ion Pascu (17-8 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) via unanimous decision in a 175-pound catchweight affair.

Check out all of the highlights above.

And for more on Bellator 196, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Gallery Benson Henderson def. Roger Huerta at Bellator 196: Best photos view 10 images

How to watch UFC 223 tonight: Fight card, start time, online results, where to stream Khabib vs. Iaquinta

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It’s been one of the craziest weeks in MMA history, but fight night is here, and this is how to watch “UFC 223: Khabib vs. Iaquinta.”

UFC 223 takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. With no early preliminary card on UFC Fight Pass, the UFC’s digital streaming network, the card instead kicks off on FS1 at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) before the main card airs on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET.

RelatedUFC 223 play-by-play and live results (8 p.m. ET)

You may also be able to stream part of the event on the FOX Sports GO app. For ways to watch outside the U.S., check out this UFC.com list.

After a majorly reshuffled card (due to would-be headliner Tony Ferguson’s injury replacement Max Holloway’s eventual scratch, and Conor McGregor’s alleged criminal rampage), UFC 223 now features a lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) and late replacement Al Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC) – though only Nurmagomedov is eligible for the belt. In the co-headliner, women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) rematches ex-titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC).

The full UFC 223 fight card is available below. You can also join us for on-site live round-by-round UFC 223 coverage on the MMAjunkie homepage.

UFC 223 main card (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta – for lightweight title (Nurmagomedov only)
  • Champ Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk – for women’s strawweight title
  • Calvin Kattar vs. Renato Moicano
  • Kyle Bochniak vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov
  • Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Joe Lauzon
UFC 223 preliminary card (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)
  • Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
  • Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Evan Dunham
  • Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Bec Rawlings
  • Devin Clark vs. Michael Rodriguez

For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Gallery Photos: UFC 223 ceremonial weigh-ins view 27 images

UFC 223 play-by-play and live results (8 p.m. ET)

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Gallery Photos: UFC 223 ceremonial weigh-ins view 27 images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – MMAjunkie is on scene and reporting live from today’s UFC 223 event, and you can join us for live play-by-play and official results beginning at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT).

The event takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1.

In the reshuffled main event, Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) meets Al Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC). If Nurmagomedov wins, he will become the new lightweight champion (but Iaquinta won’t). In the co-feature, women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) looks to defend her title when she rematches ex-titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC).

RelatedConor McGregor arraigned for UFC 223 bus attack, free after posting $50,000 bail

Follow along with our round-by-round updates and official results beginning at approximately 8 p.m. ET for the prelims on FS1 and 10 p.m. ET for the main card on pay-per-view.

To discuss the show, be sure to check out our UFC 223 discussion thread. You can also get behind-the-scenes coverage and other event notes from on-site reporters John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn), Ken Hathaway (@kenshathaway) and Mike Bohn (@mikebohnmma) on Twitter.

Enjoy the fights, everyone.

* * * *

Devin Clark vs. Michael Rodriguez

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
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Records: Devin Clark (8-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) vs. Mike Rodriguez (9-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Light heavyweight
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Evan Dunham vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) vs. Evan Dunham (18-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC)
Division: Lightweight
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Bec Rawlings vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
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Records: Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) vs. Bec Rawlings (7-7 MMA, 2-4 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Felice Herrig

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
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Records: Felice Herrig (13-6 MMA, 5-1 UFC) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC)
Division: Women’s strawweight
Rankings: Kowalkiewicz No. 5, Herrig honorable mention
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Joe Lauzon vs. Chris Gruetzemacher

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
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Records: Chris Gruetzemacher (13-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) vs. Joe Lauzon (27-14 MMA, 14-11 UFC)
Division: Lightweight
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Kyle Bochniak

Round 1 –

Result:
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Records: Kyle Bochniak (8-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov (14-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC)
Division: Featherweight
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

Renato Moicano vs. Calvin Kattar

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Calvin Kattar (18-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) vs. Renato Moicano (11-1-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC)
Division: Featherweight
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC)
Division: Women’s strawweight
Rankings: Namajunas No. 1, Jedrzejczyk No. 2
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) vs. Al Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC)
Division: Lightweight
Rankings: Nurmagomedov No. 3 (No. 11 pound-for-pound), Iaquinta No. 13
Broadcast: Pay-per-view
Referee:
Judging:

UFC 223 discussion thread

MMA Junkie News -

Gallery Photos: UFC 223 ceremonial weigh-ins view 27 images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – MMAjunkie is on scene and reporting live from today’s UFC 223 event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., which kicks off at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT). You can discuss the event here.

Be sure to follow along with the latest card updates in our UFC 223 live results post, and then discuss the event in the comments section below.

Round-by-round updates and official results begin at approximately 8 p.m. ET for the preliminary card and 10 p.m. ET for the main card.

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Video: Watch UFC 223's post-event press conference on MMAjunkie

MMA Junkie News -

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – UFC 223 takes place today at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and as usual, you can watch a live video stream of the post-event news conference here on MMAjunkie at approximately 1:30 a.m. ET (10:30 p.m. PT).

Expected to take part in the press conference are headliners Khabib Nurmagomedov and Al Iaquinta, co-headliners Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and other winners from the card.

For complete coverage of UFC 223, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Gallery Photos: UFC 223 ceremonial weigh-ins view 27 images

10 reasons to watch UFC 223, where the show goes on despite the most insane fight week

MMA Junkie News -

Gallery Photos: UFC 223 ceremonial weigh-ins view 27 images

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in the days leading up to UFC 223. But as we know, the UFC will do anything to avoid canceling an event.

The headliner between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Al Iaquinta is the third headlining bout the card has had this week. Nurmagomedov lost his original opponent, Tony Ferguson, to a freak injury last week. He then lost his replacement opponent, featherweight champion Max Holloway, on weigh-in day. Nurmagomedov’s third and final opponent is Iaquinta, who was initially booked to face Paul Felder.

If Nurmagomedov wins, he will be crowned UFC lightweight champion. Iaquinta weighed in at 155.2 pounds, so he cannot officially win the title since he was over championship weight, though UFC President Dana White indicated that could change.

RelatedUFC 223 co-main breakdown: Does Rose Namajunas simply have Joanna Jedrzejczyk's number?

Felder joins Michael Chiesa, Anthony Pettis, Ray Borg, Brandon Moreno, Alex Caceres, and Artem Lobov as fighters who had their UFC 223 bouts scratched at the last minute. Of that group, Felder was the only one not affected by the fracas that Conor McGregor initiated after the event’s media day on Thursday.

In the co-main event, Rose Namajunas puts her strawweight title on the line against the woman she took the belt from, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

UFC 223 takes place tonight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. The elephant in the room

The UFC has a history of glossing over happenings that might reflect poorly on the promotion. On Thursday, McGregor, its biggest star, went on a rampage that left him facing criminal charges and UFC President Dana White wondering, “I don’t know if he’s on drugs or what his deal is.”

McGregor’s actions are hard to ignore, even for the most loyal UFC employees.

At some point during the UFC 223 broadcast, the UFC needs to address what went down Thursday and how it affected the fight card. It would also be nice if White had something to say about what repercussions, if any, McGregor will face from the promotion.

if(typeof(jQuery)=="function"){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)}; jwplayer('jwplayer_YfQymD7u_RbnemIYZ_div').setup( {"playlist":"http:\/\/content.jwplatform.com\/feeds\/YfQymD7u.json","ph":2} ); 2. Will history repeat?

We know Nurmagomedov’s game plan. Nurmagomedov, who is the No. 3 ranked fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, wants to get the fight to the mat and use his size, strength and positional awareness so he can dole out incredible ground-and-pound punishment and eventually break his opponent. For evidence of this strategy, just watch his recent wins over Michael Johnson and Edson Barboza.

Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC), who is ranked No. 13 in the division, will look to follow in the footsteps of his coach, Matt Serra, when he faces Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) in Brooklyn. Eleven years ago to the day, Serra pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history when he knocked out Georges St-Pierre to become welterweight champion at UFC 69. Iaquinta isn’t as big of an underdog as Serra was, but if he can end Nurmagomedov’s 25-fight winning streak, it will be a history-making upset.

For his part, Serra feels confident that Iaquinta can follow in his footsteps.

“Al’s going to shock the (expletive) world, and this interview’s going to be worth something,” Serra told MMAjunkie.

It's been a helluva #UFC223 fight week for @TeamKhabib Nurmagomedov. "They ask me fight with five different guys. I said, I'm tired about this. If you can bring King Kong, and he can make 155, let's go." More: https://t.co/YGvvmjFaDX pic.twitter.com/YOv7Gbq1S9

— MMAjunkie (@MMAjunkie) April 7, 2018

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