combat

UFC 223 breakdown: who to watch and what titles are on the line

Max Holloway must drop more than 20lbs by weigh-in, which could be hazardous for him against a hungry Khabib Nurmagomedov even if he makes weight. Can strawweight challenger Joanna Jedrzejczyk regain her edge against the champion Rose Namajunas?


Kahron Spearman


With UFC 223 just around the corner, April 7 at Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, the hype surrounding some of the extraordinary circumstances with the headliners are at a fever pitch.  

 

Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) will take on UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC), who accepted this fight on just six days notice, for the official lightweight championship.

 

In the co-feature, UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) will have a highly anticipated rematch with former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who was stunned early on when they first locked up last November.

 

The main card also includes:

 

Renato Moicano vs. Calvin Kattar (featherweight); Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis (lightweight); Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder (lightweight)

 

Let's breakdown the main events.

Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

In the first match, Jedrzejczyk left herself open for left hooks, in dealing with Namajunas' feints. Subsequently, Namajunas feigned jab-leading one-two and quickly dropped the then-arrogant then-champion with a hook. Out of sorts, Jedrzejczyk was eventually caught again and put away.

 

Jedrzejczyk will have to figure out a way to maintain a level of distance, maintain her fundamentals, and get into her Muay Thai and counter in the rematch. On the flip side, Namajunas must not rely on her striking and make Jedrzejczyk highly uncomfortable in her takedown attempts.

 

Under no terms can Jedrzejczyk allow the champion to have her back, or its going to be a long night.

When the UFC called, they called the right guy, I'm here on 6 days notice. (Khabib) is an animal. This guy is one of the most feared guys, I don't know why, we're all fighters, we all train. He's human, I'm human. We get to go out there and find out who's better.

Max Holloway vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Let's start with an important note: Holloway is reportedly dropping over 20 pounds, per Deadspin. 

 

Let's add in another fact: Nurmagomedov takes on only 1.52 significant strikes per minute. According to ESPN, it's by far the best among ranked lightweights, which doesn't bode well for featherweight Holloway. 

 

There's an obvious reason to consider whether the champion will have the necessary pop and endurance to deter Dagestani sambo fighter from applying his signature pressure and working for takedowns that will sap Holloway of any juice he has.

 

Holloway is a beast for even taking on the fight. It's a win-win situation, where he's going to be given benefit of the doubt, regardless of the outcome. However, if he comes out victorious, it would be one of the great achievements in UFC history.

SOU  RCES