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UFC 223 live updates: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta

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Following what was likely the most chaotic week in UFC history, Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0) will face Long Island’s Al Iaquinta (13-3-1) in the UFC 223 main event on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Those two will battle for the lightweight title vacated by Conor McGregor, who is now facing criminal charges from his rampage on Thursday. Nurmagomedov was originally supposed to face Tony Ferguson, but Ferguson was forced to pull out after tripping on a cord while doing a media appearance last week. UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway agreed to step in on one week’s notice but he was declared medically unfit to compete yesterday. After a mad scramble, Iaquinta was then chosen as the new opponent shortly before the ceremonial weigh-ins. Poland’s Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1) will take on Colorado’s Rose Namajunas (8-3) for the women’s strawweight title in the co-main event. Namajunas scored a massive upset over Jedrzejczyk to win the title. Also on the main card will be Brazil’s Renato Moicano (11-1-1) fighting American Calvin Kattar (18-2-0).

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta live round-by-round coverage

Khabib Nurmagomedov is an undefeated Russian competitor with a ferocious ground game. He is finally getting his chance to hold UFC gold. Al Iaquinta is an eccentric striker with an unlikely opportunity to catapult himself to the top of his division.

Round 1. The crowd loudly chants for Khabib despite the fight taking place in Iaquinta’s backyard. Iaquinta moves in looking to land a big punch. Khabib shoots but doesn’t come close to a takedown. Khabib shoots again and gets a leg. He uses this to take Iaquinta down. Iaquinta immediately looks to stand up but Khabib takes the back. He doesn’t get in his hooks, however, and Iaquinta returns to his feet. Khabib uses a trip takedown and has Iaquinta down by the cage. Iaquinta has Khabib’s arm and uses the threat of the kimura to partially get up. However, Khabib controls him and lands punches from that position. Iaquinta gets up but Khabib throws him down and begins throwing heavy punches from the top. Iaquinta gets up again but Khabib controls the body as the round concludes. 10-9 Khabib.

Round 2. Iaquinta eats a kick to the head as he is walking in. Iaquinta lands a nice overhand right. Khabib shoots in but can’t control the leg. However, he tries again and gets the takedown this time. Iaquinta moves to stand up again. Khabib keeps him down but can’t get in any offense. As Iaquinta tries to stand up once more, Khabib hops on his back and gets the hooks. Khabib then looks to lock in a rear naked choke. Iaquinta avoids it. Khabib turns to punches and then tries again. Iaquinta defends. Khabib continues to look for that choke but Iaquinta survives. 10-8 Khabib.

Round 3. Iaquinta lunges in with a few punches. He clearly doesn’t want to get too close to Khabib. Khabib is throwing straight punches of his own to keep Iaquinta honest. Khabib connects with a strong two punch combination. He then goes back to it. Khabib tries a takedown but it is blocked. Iaquinta lands a hard punch of his own. Iaquinta’s nose is busted up and the crowd rallies behind the underdog. They trade leg kicks. Khabib lands a few jabs. 10-9 Khabib.

Round 4. Khabib goes back to work with his jab. He lands a solid uppercut. Iaquinta connects with a nice jab of his own. Khabib responds with a few more jabs. Khabib looks for a takedown but doesn’t get it. Iaquinta teases a takedown but doesn’t come close. Khabib keeps landing his jab over and over again. 10-9 Khabib.

Round 5. Iaquinta lands a few punches and the crowd erupts. Iaquinta does well with another combination. Khabib goes back to his jab and connects with it a number of times in a row. Iaquinta blocks a takedown. Khabib then hurts Iaquinta in an exchange. He throws a series of punches and a head kick and then takes Iaquinta down as Iaquinta staggers back. Iaquinta stands back up but Khabib hops on his back and pulls him back down. Khabib grabs a choke late but can’t get it under the chin and has to give it up. Khabib has the hooks and is looking for the finish while Iaquinta fights to survive. 10-9 Khabib, 50-44 Khabib.

Winner: Khabib Nurmagomedov, unanimous decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-43)

Khabib is a really dangerous fighter and he showed it in that fight. Al Iaquinta raised his stock as well with the heart he showed in defeat surviving to the end.

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Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrezejczyk live round-by-round coverage

Rose Namajunas pulled off a monumental upset when she devastated Joanna Jedrzejczyk with punches and handed the dominant Polish champion her first MMA loss. Now, Jedrzejczyk has the opportunity for her revenge and Namajunas has the chance to prove the first time wasn’t any sort of fluke.

Round 1. After both fighters throw out jabs, Jedrzejczyk lands a hard leg kick. They exchange looping punches with neither connecting with anything big. Jedrzejczyk connects with a few more solid leg kicks. Namajunas connects on a few straight punches up the middle. Namajunas lands a few telling punches but Jedrzejczyk isn’t in jeopardy. They both land hard punches in a late exchange. That’s a tough round to score. 10-9 Jedrzejczyk.

Round 2. Namajunas walks in with a big two punch combination. Jedrzejczyk smiles. Namajunas lands another power punch in response. Namajunas attacks again with another combination and Jedrzejczyk fires back with a counter of her own. It’s clear Jedrzejczyk has a lot of respect for Namajunas’ power as she isn’t throwing nearly as much as she usually does. Namajunas catches Jedrzejczyk with a hook at the end of a combination. Namajunas lands a left hand and they clinch. That was clearly Namajunas’ round. 10-9 Namajunas.

Round 3. Namajunas knocks Jedrzejczyk back with a punch early although it looked to be more that she was off balance than stunned. Jedrzejczyk lands a nice straight right hand up the middle. Jedrzejczyk seems to be moving confidently although it hasn’t coincided with a strong uptick in output. Namajunas attempts a spinning back fist but it doesn’t land solidly. Jedrzejczyk lands a few leg kicks. Both fighters connect with telling punches in an exchange. That was another close round. 10-9 Namajunas.

Round 4. Jedrzejczyk throws some additional leg kicks early, concentrating on Namajunas’ very red lead leg. Namajunas continues to focus on her boxing. Jedrzejczyk lands a nice jab. Namajunas’ leg is a mess as Jedrzejczyk continues to attack it. Namajunas has success with some punches and Jedrzejczyk again smiles in response. 10-9 Jedrzejczyk, 38-38, even going into the final round.

Round 5. Namajunas nails Jedrzejczyk with a big hook early in the fifth, one of the best blows of the fight. Namajunas follows with a nice straight punch moments later. They exchange looping punches and Jedrzejczyk connects with a knee to the head. Namajunas lunges in with an uppercut. Jedrzejczyk is bleeding badly from the nose and mouth area. Jedrzejczyk is using her kicks less this round and she’s not having as much success. Jedrzejczyk throws a head kick and a knee. Namajunas gets a takedown in the final 30 seconds. Jedrzejczyk uses a series of punches from the bottom and that’s that. The fighters embrace at the end of a hard fought, competitive bout. 10-9 Namajunas, 48-47 Namajunas.

Winner: Rose Namajunas, unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).

Both fighters demonstrated their class in that bout. Jedrzejczyk was able to turn in a much better performance than the last time while Namajunas was even better and affirmed the original result. Some may feel the scores were too wide but those scorecards are perfectly fine. Namajunas had two rounds fairly solidly, Jedrzejczyk had one and two were close.

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Renato Moicano vs. Calvin Kattar live round-by-round coverage

Renato Miocano accumulated an undefeated record heading into his last fight but was turned back by top featherweight contender Brian Ortega. Now, Moicano will seek to rebound. Calvin Kattar has an impressive 18-2 record and is 2-0 in the UFC.

Round 1. Moicano lands a few leg kicks early. Kattar catches Moicano with a full power punch to the jaw that momentarily dazes Moicano. Micano recovers remarkably well given how hard that landed. Moicano continues to pepper Kattar with leg kicks which is his primary weapon. Kattar weaves in but has trouble landing anything with the leg kicks keeping him at bay. 10-9 Moicano.

Round 2. Moicano lands a few quality punches early in the second. He’s decidedly dictating the pace of the fight. Kattar lands a nice two punch combination. Moicano continues to attack that lead leg with kicks. Kattar lands a couple punches. The restless crowd is turning on the fight. Moicano lands a nice uppercut. The key to the slow pace is that Moicano keeps firing in those leg kicks and it prevents Kattar from feeling comfortable enough to move in. Thus, Moicano is able to engage when he wants and he’s content with a deliberate pace. 10-9 Moicano.

Round 3. Kattar catches a kick and has Moicano down briefly. Moicano gets up in a hurry. Kattar lands a nice jab. Moicano answers with a kick to the body and straight punch to the head. Moicano adds an uppercut as well. Moicano opens up with some hard punches and is throwing more and more as the round progresses. Moicano utilizes a vicious uppercut and body kick and appears interested in getting a finish. 10-9 Moicano, 30-27 Moicano.

Winner: Renato Moicano, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).

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Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Kyle Bochniak live round-by-round coverage

Zabit Magomedsharipov is another in the invasion of tough fighters from Dagestan, Russia. He is a finisher with a 14-1 record and two submissions in two UFC bouts. Kyle Bochniak is the heavy underdog with an 8-2 MMA record.

Round 1. Bochniak moves in with punches while Magomedsharipov looks to counter. Neither man has connected with much all that cleanly early on. Magomedsharipov connects with a spinning kick to the head. Bochniak, however, keeps charging in as Magomedsharipov hasn’t made him pay too much for his aggression. Both fighters were active but they didn’t score all that much. 10-9 Magomedsharipov.

Round 2. Magomedsharipov lands a pair of stiff kicks early. Magomedsharipov grabs Bochniak’s back on the feet and looks for a takedown. Bochniak defends well. Magomedsharipov eventually gets the takedown. Bochniak stands up quickly but is then deposited back on the canvas. It takes a little longer but Bochniak gets up again. Magomedsharipov lands a few shots so Bochniak sticks out his chin to challenge him. Magomedsharipov responds with a heavy punch to the jaw and Bochniak promptly decides against giving it to him. Bochinak is bleeing from the face significantly and has nasty welts on his ribcage. Magomedsharipov gets a takedown. Bochniak looks for an armbar but can’t get it. He does at least seize on the opportunity to stand up. Magomedsharipov lands a couple of spinning attacks late. 10-8 Magomedsharipov.

Round 3. Bochniak charges in with punches and gets countered. Still, he keeps pushing. Bochniak is gutsy if nothing else. Magomedsharipov lands a brutal spinning back kick to the chin. He then raises 1 finger up in the air in triumph. Magomedsharipov looks for another takedown. He eventually gets it. Bochniak works his way back up. Magomedsharipov looks to attack the leg in the scramble but Bochniak prevents that. Magomedsharipov goes for an enzuigiri kick. He sticks out his tongue and they trade punches at the end. What a wild fight. 10-9 Magomedsharipov.

Winner: Zabit Magomedsharipov, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).

That was a heck of a fight. Zabit Magomedsharipov is a wild, entertaining fighter who has all sorts of unorthodox weapons in his arsenal. After that fight, UFC is surely going to be looking for a chance to match him with a top fighter because there will be a lot of interest.

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Joe Lauzon vs. Chris Gruetzemacher live round-by-round coverage

Joe Lauzon is one of the most tenured fighters on the UFC record and is tied for the record for most post-fight bonuses in UFC history. In recent years, he has largely alternated between wins and losses. Chris Gruetzemacher has a 13-3 overall MMA record but lost his last two UFC fights via submission.

Round 1. The first few punches that land from Lauzon appear to cause some problems for Gruetzemacher. Lauzon lands a hard elbow and shoots in for a takedown. When he cannot get it, he settles for pulling guard. Gruetzemacher postures up and out of Lauzon’s attempt to secure guard and he lands some punches from the top. When he drops down, Lauzon attacks the leg. Lauzon can’t set up a heel hook and Gruetzemacher gets up. On the feet, Gruetzemacher lands a few nice punches but Lauzon answers with him own. Gruetzemacher has success with a few uppercuts. Gruetzemacher really opens up in the final minute and has Lauzon in trouble with a some impressive combinations. Gruetzemacher is also consistently mixing in attacks to the body. 10-9 Gruetzemacher.

Round 2. Gruetzemacher picks up where he left off in the first, confidently picking Lauzon apart with punches. Lauzon is bleeding badly near the eye. Lauzon shoots in for a takedown but does not get it. Gruetzemacher continues to attack the body with punches, kicks and knees before going back to the head. Lauzon will periodically fire back but Gruetzemacher is landing all of the telling blows. Lauzon’s face is a mess and he’s become a punching bag. 10-8 Gruetzemacher.

Joe Lauzon’s corner stops the fight between rounds 2 and 3.

Winner: Chris Gruetzemacher, TKO, round 2.

All credit to Joe Lauzon’s corner stopping that fight. Corners rarely step in under those circumstances but he was taking a terrible beating and corners should do it more often when a fight is going that way. That was an impressive performance by Gruetzemacher against a solid veteran of the sport.

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Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Felic Herrig live round-by-round coverage

Karolina Kowalkiewicz is one of the world’s best strawweight fighters and holds a win over the champion Rose Namajunas. She would love another title shot after falling short against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Felice Herrig has won four straight and this is her chance to get herself in that title mix.

Round 1. In the feeling out, Herrig lands a hard right hand. The crowd begins to chant for Kowalkiewicz. Herrig lands a nice hook a little while later as well. Herrig lands a few more hooks after that. Herrig is doing very well in the striking. They clinch and Herrig looks for a takedown. Kowalkiewicz defends well. Kowalkiewicz lands some hard punches of her own from inside. Both fighters are really opening up. Kowalkiewicz ducks down for a knee bar but doesn’t set it up. Kowalkiewicz grabs a triangle from the bottom and then reverses into top position. Kowalkiewicz lands a few punches from the top at the close. Close, entertaining round. 10-9 Kowalkiewicz.

Round 2. Both fighters come out confidently in the second and open up with punches in the pocket. Both get in some solid shots in the early exchange. Herrig lands another of those stiff hooks while Kowalkiewicz uses a few elbows. Kowalkiewicz lands a spinning back fist and they exchange in the clinch. Kowalkiewicz gets a brief takedown but Herrig returns to her feet and they go back to trading punches from close range. 10-9 Kowalkiewicz.

Round 3. Herrig lands some strong punches early, a few jabs and then a hook later. Herrig throughout appears to have more power than Kowalkiewicz but Kowalkiewicz has become more active as the fight has progressed. Kowalkiewicz counters with a few nice punches of her own and in general the action has been back and forth. Herrig connects well with some punches late and clinches. They open up with wild punches in the final 10 seconds and then embrace. 10-9 Herrig, 29-28 Kowalkiewicz.

Winner: Karolina Kowalkiewicz, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

That was an entertaining fight and a solid performance by both. Kowalkiewicz was very popular with the crowd and ended the winning streak of a formidable opponent. She now will surely hope for Rose Namajunas to win later on the card as it makes her much more likely to get a title shot.

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Evan Dunham vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier live round-by-round coverage

Evan Dunham is a respected lightweight veteran who has fought against top-notch talent like Rafael dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone, T.J. Grant, Tyson Griffin and Edson Barboza over the course of his career. Going 4-0-1 in his last five, Dunham is looking to work his way into title contention. Olivier Aubin-Mercier is an Ultimate Fighter finalist and has won six of his last seven in the UFC. Interestingly, this is only the the third time he has fought outside of Canada.

Round 1. Dunham pushes forward early looking to press Aubin-Mercier against the cage. Aubin-Mercier backs him up temporarily with a couple of jabs but Dunham regroups and moves forward again. Aubin-Mercier catches Dunham with a knee to the body and then follows with a barrage of punches until the referee stops it.

Winner: Olivier Aubin-Mercier, TKO, round 1.

That was a crucial win for Aubin-Mercier. It’s likely the biggest name he has defeated, and it was also the first fight that he won via knockout. Aubin-Mercier put himself in good position for a high-quality opponent next time out.

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Bec Rawlings vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith

Bec Rawlings is an eccentric brawler from Australia who has dropped three straight in the UFC and desperately needs a victory here. Ashlee Evans-Smith gained notoriety by becoming the only fighter to defeat transgender competitor Fallon Fox. Since then she made her way to the UFC but she lost her last two fights.

Round 1. Rawlings refuses an offer to touch gloves at the start. Evans-Smith is more of the aggressor early, throwing more punches and kicks while Rawlings looks to get a feel for the range. Evans-Smith connects with a nice straight punch that stun Rawlings a little and Rawlings has to fire back to prevent Evans-Smith’s advance. As the round progresses, Rawlings begins to land a little bit more but Evans-Smith continues to get the better of the striking. She’s getting off first and her punches appear to have a little more pop. Rawlings lands a couple of solid punches late and Evans-Smith scores a takedown at the close. 10-9 Evans-Smith.

Round 2. Evans-Smith is again the more active fighter early in the second with offense from different levels. Rawlings blocks a quick takedown attempt. Rawlings hits Evans-Smith with a solid right hand but Evans-Smith responds again with volume. Evans-Smith goes for a late takedown but this time it is stuffed and Rawlings takes the opportunity to fire off some of her best offense of the fight with punches and knees. 10-9 Evans-Smith.

Round 3. Evans-Smith isn’t as active early in the third, allowing Rawlings to become more aggressive with her strikes since Evans-Smith’s volume is what has kept Rawlings at bay. Not a lot is getting through on either end and neither fighter appears to have the power to change the tide of this fight in quick order. 10-9 Rawlings, 29-28 Evans-Smith.

Winner: Ashlee Evans-Smith, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Ashlee Evans-Smith was clearly the better fighter and dictated the way the fight went.

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Devin Clark vs. Mike Rodriguez live round-by-round coverage

UFC 223 kicks off with a light heavyweight bout pitting Devin Clark against Mike Rodriguez. Clark is 2-2 in the UFC while Rodriguez earned this opportunity with a flying knee knockout on Dana White’s contender series.

Round 1. Clark lands a couple of solid punches at the start before clinching and securing a takedown. Rodriguez quickly works his way back to his feet. They battle against the cage, trading knees in an ostensible stalemate. Finally, the referee separates them. At range, Clark lands a low kick and Rodriguez responds by throwing a much harder low kick of his own that drops Clark down. Clark returns to his feet and is fine but he eats some heavy punches shortly thereafter. Clark clinches and both men lands some nice shots in that clinch including a Clark punch and a Rodriguez knee. After a separation, Rodriguez comes in with a flying knee but Clark responds by taking Rodriguez down with a little over a minute left in the round. Clark controls the back and lands a series of punches to conclude the round. 10-9 Clark.

Round 2. Rodriguez connects with some quality kicks and knees to the body early in the round. Clark goes back to the clinch. Rodriguez appears to stun Clark with a left hand at range and follows up by going on the offensive. Clark returns to his trusty clinch. Not a lot is happening there and it emerging as a stalling tactic for Clark. They break and Clark lands a nice hook. Seeing an opportunity he follows with a series of punches but the returns to the clinch. 10-9 Rodriguez. He landed the better shots and Clark shouldn’t be rewarded for stalling.

Round 3. Clark shoots in for a takedown and eats some elbows in the process. Clark ends up maneuvering himself behind Rodriguez and lands some punches from there. Rodriguez works his way back to his feet but Clark takes him back down from there at the midpoint of the round. Rodriguez gets up late. Clark yanks him back down in the final minute. 10-9 Clark, 29-28 Clark.

Winner: Devin Clark, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).

If you enjoy fighters instigating clinch stalemates, Devin Clark’s your guy.

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There was just a bit of chaos leading up to UFC 223

Khabib Nurmagomedov was originally scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 223.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Within the same hour that Conor McGregor was emerging handcuffed from the New York Police Department’s Brooklyn precinct, scheduled UFC 223 main-event fighter Max Holloway was ruled out due to the effects of his weight cut.

“Shoot me in the [expletive] head,” UFC President Dana White texted to The Times.

McGregor, the UFC’s lightweight champion from Ireland described by his defense attorney as having “the most visible face on the planet,” followed up his video-recorded Thursday attack on a bus carrying UFC fighters inside Barclays Center by leaving Brooklyn Criminal Court after posting a $50,000 bail.

McGregor pleaded not guilty to one count of felony mischief and three misdemeanor counts of assault and will be free to travel internationally by checking in weekly, according to his bail bondsman, Ira Judelson, with a promise to return to court June 14 for his next hearing.

He was very thankful he was out,” Judelson said of McGregor, who didn’t speak outside the precinct or court.

The man believed to be the target of McGregor’s wrath, Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0), now will face Long Island’s Al Iaquinta (13-3-1) in Saturday night’s main event — the third opponent the unbeaten lightweight has had to prepare for.

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Joanna Jedrzejczyk is trying to stay positive

Rose Namajunas, left, faces off against strawweight challenger Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Looking back on her first loss in the UFC, former women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk insists she didn’t dwell on it for very long.

“I don’t know if you’re going to believe me or not, but I got over it the same night,” Jedrzejczyk said of her first-round knockout loss to Rose Namajunas in November..

“I went to the locker room, and I had brought my nephew there. He was 7. It was his first fight. I saw him and he hugged me — ‘Hey, auntie, you must be so sad’ — but I had to be so strong for this little kid. I must show him how to deal with losing in life, to be an adult, to be very strong.”

Saturday night in the co-main event at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Poland’s Jedrzejczyk (14-1) and Colorado’s Namajunas (8-3) meet again.

Jedrzejczyk’s journey here is all about coming to terms with the loss.

“People wanted me to hide from this. No, I want to show them something,” she said. “I lost fighting, and fighting is my job … but there’s still so many things in my life that will happen – good and bad – in my future.

“What I know is that I want to give power to people who have failed and don’t have enough energy and strength to rise. I want to say to them that it doesn’t matter if you are a businessman or an athlete, or had something bad happen in your life, and you don’t feel like you want to go through it. I want to say, ‘Guys, it’s worth it. Life is too short and beautiful to wait for a great moment. Take life in your hands and go for it.’ This is what I want to show.”

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