UFC 223 is finally here.
The organization’s return to pay-per-view was originally scheduled to showcase a UFC Lightweight Championship bout between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, but a ‘freak accident’ has left Ferguson injured and unable to compete. In his place, Max Holloway will step up and feature in the main event.
Max Holloway vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
It might not be the fight that was promised, but this one is still about as good as it gets. Max Holloway, the UFC Featherweight Champion, will step up to the plate and challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 223. Holloway puts his 12-fight winning streak on the line here as he jumps up a weight class to challenge the tremendously skilled grappler from Russia.
Max Holloway has quickly become a fan-favorite because of his ‘it is what it is’ attitude. Taking this short-notice fight with Nurmagomedov only adds to that. Before this fight, Holloway stopped one of the greatest featherweight’s of all-time twice when he ran through Jose Aldo in just three rounds to steal the championship from him and then in three rounds again when he defended the title. Holloway is legitimate, and a win here would cement him as one of the greatest to have ever done it.
But standing across from him is a fighter who has become one of the most feared martial artists in the world. Nurmagomedov uses his exceptional grappling ability to take an opponent down to the mat before crushing them with devastating punches as they remain pinned to the canvas. His opposition is left helpless, and he continues to rain down heavy punches, and that’s what many expect to be the case again at UFC 223.
See, Holloway isn’t a lightweight. He’ll be stepping up to take on one of the biggest in the weight division, and he is going to have a hard time keeping the very sticky Nurmagomedov away from him. It’s going to be a long night for the Hawaiian at UFC 223.
Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov by KO/TKO – Round 2
Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
If you believed that the main event was about as good as it gets, then this rematch isn’t far behind.
Rose Namajunas recently defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk in just three minutes to claim the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship at UFC 217. In doing so, Namajunas became the first ever to defeat Jedrzejczyk and she now is set to defend this title in her very next appearance.
Jedrzejczyk was highly regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial arts in the entire UFC roster. She had crushed all of her challengers and used her slick striking ability to overwhelm opponent’s and make them look like they belonged in a secondary league. Yet, Namajunas stood toe-to-toe with the champion and bet her to the punch on every occasion. It was a clinical striking performance from a fighter many were expecting to rely on taking Joanna down to the canvas for a chance of winning.
Although the bookmakers don’t agree with us, we believe Rose Namajunas is going to do the same here; it might take a little longer, though.
Prediction: Rose Namajunas by KO/TKO – Round 2
Renato Moicano vs. Calvin Kattar
Since joining the UFC in December 2014, Renato Moicano put together three consecutive victories before running into the next featherweight championship contender in Brian Ortega. Moicano relies on his well-timed and precise striking to outwork his opponent. Most impressively, he navigated past Jeremy Stephens at a UFC on FOX card in April last year.
He’ll be up against Calvin Kattar, who is bursting through the scene right now. Kattar stepped into the UFC’s Octagon for the first time at UFC 214 and managed to defeat Andre Fili. After that, he then went on to defeat Shane Burgos by KO/TKO at UFC 220 in January. He’ll now be featured on his third consecutive pay-per-view and second-straight PPV main card as he faces Moicano in a featherweight contest.
Prediction: Calvin Kattar by unanimous decision
Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis
Tucked away toward the start of the UFC 223 main card is a pivotal matchup between Michael Chiesa and Anthony Pettis.
Chiesa was trending upward after three consecutive victories in the UFC through 2015 and 2016. It all came to a sudden ending when he ran into Kevin Lee in June last year, however. The usually dominant grappler met his match and was ‘technically submitted’ by Lee in the first round.
Pettis, on the other hand, has not experienced a winning streak of his own since late 2014 when he defended his UFC Lightweight Championship and won his fifth straight contest. Since then, it’s all been downhill for Pettis who has lost five of his seven fights afterward.
It’s time to find out whether Michael Chiesa is for real, or Anthony Pettis still has some gas left in the tank.
Prediction: Michael Chiesa by submission
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder
One of the very best matchups at UFC 223 is one that no one is talking about.
Al Iaquinta will clash with Paul Felder in a lightweight clash to get the UFC 223 pay-per-view started. Riding a five-fight winning streak, Iaquinta will look to keep things going as he returns to action for his second fight in nearly three years. After experiencing contract issues, Iaquinta played with the idea of leaving the sport for good. Thankfully, he didn’t.
Standing across from him at UFC 223 is the exceptionally gifted striker in Paul Felder. Known for bloodying up opponents with his brutal Muay Thai techniques, Felder has won five of his last six fights in the UFC. Most recently, he picked up a big win over Charles Oliveira at UFC 218.
Prediction: Al Iaquinta by KO/TKO
UFC 223 fight card
UFC 223 begins on UFC Fight Pass from 6:15 pm ET (11:15 pm GMT) on Saturday, April 7.
Pay-per-view (10:00 pm ET / 3:00 am GMT)
- Max Holloway [+400] vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov [-450]
- Rose Namajunas [+110] vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk [-115]
- Renato Moicano [+120] vs. Calvin Kattar [-125]
- Michael Chiesa [-130] vs. Anthony Pettis [+118]
- Al Iaquinta [-112] vs. Paul Felder [+105]
FS1 (8:00 pm ET / 1:00 am GMT)
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz [-176] vs. Felice Herrig [+164]
- Ray Borg [-265] vs. Brandon Moreno [+241]
- Joe Lauzon [-158] vs. Chris Gruetzemacher [+148]
- Evan Dunham [-135] vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier [+125]
UFC Fight Pass (6:15 pm ET / 11:15 am GMT)
- Alex Caceres [-135] vs. Artem Lobov [+125]
- Bec Rawlings [+175] vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith [-180]
- Devin Clark [-106] vs. Mike Rodriguez [-102]
- Zabit Magomedsharipov [-723] vs. Kyle Bochniak [+587]