Top 3 Performances From UFC 223

Khabib vs Iaquinta

Ranking the Top Performances From UFC 223

What a weird week. UFC 223 began as the deepest card of the year featuring the rematch we all wanted and the greatest lightweight title fight of all time. In the end, it became a nine fight card with a main event that before this week would only have made sense in a video game.

But it totally redeemed itself with one of the best cards the year has seen. Seriously, i’m high on life after watching those warriors throw down with such tenacity and enthusiasm.

The co-main event produced, in my eyes, the greatest UFC women’s title fight of all-time. It was an all-out technical battle that tested the heart, will and skill of both the champ and the former.

And the main event ended up being wildly entertaining and beautifully odd. But I don’t want to throw too much away at the top, so let’s dive on in…

#3 Zabit Magomedsharipov

You knew I wasn’t going to leave my boy Zabit outta this one.

Going into the fight, many believed it would be a showcase for the flashy prospect. Kyle Bochniak hadn’t inspired much hope in the fans, but afterward we all bowed down to the insanity he created.

However, he wasn’t the man who walked out victorious tonight. Zabit strung together some high-profile combinations that helped back the advancing Bochniak. From there: spinning back fists, back kicks and even a damn showtime kick would steal the show at every turn. But there Bochniak was, soldiering on and staying in the face of the Russian.

There in lies the reasoning behind my ranking of Zabit at #3.

It was easily the toughest test Zabit had faced in his relatively short career. In just his third fight under the UFC banner, Magomedsharipov went all three rounds with a raving lunatic begging to be swung on by the rarely tested prospect turned contender. Thus bringing us to the next question…

Who’s Next?

Listen, I don’t want him facing another unranked fighter.

I understand it’s difficult given the circumstances (nobody wants to fight him), but seriously let’s figure this out. Bochniak gave him one hell of a fight; good on him for doing so. But it’s time for the UFC to really push the boundaries of this kid’s skill and throw him a top-10 opponent.

As for who…?

Yair Rodriguez! That was the call-out from Zabit after his win and by golly i’m all the way down with that one. Can you imagine the insanity that fight would produce? Yair has a unique combination of high-energy kicks and an active ground game. Zabit, shows brilliance on the feet and control of the floor.

These two stepping into the octagon would make all your wildest fight dreams come true. So let’s make it happen people, the clock is ticking.

#2 Khabib Nurmagomedov

Now, the nature of this article is to point out the best performances from UFC 223. That usually means you won and you won impressively. Because of that, i’m not going to include Al Iaquinta in this list.

BUT,,,it would be an absolute travesty and miscarriage of justice if I didn’t mention the blood and guts performance from who Khabib calls, “The Real Gangster of New York”, Al Iaquinta. He stepped in on like 32 hours notice and went five rounds with one of the most dominant lightweights of all time. Unreal.

Now to the man of the hour.

Khabib Nurmagomedov finally gets his belt and becomes the champion we all have been waiting for. The first two rounds went down in typical fashion. It started with low singles, to fence clinching fun, to beautiful trips and top control. The ground and pound landed hard, allowing Khabib to find the back and threaten several chokes that came up just short.

Then, two rounds of amusing striking exchanges thanks to a few consecutive defended takedowns from Al and some snapping jabs by Khabib. Did his striking look world-class? Not necessarily. But frankly it doesn’t need to be. He was still effective because of the danger he presents on the ground and that led to wipe-out scorecards in favor of the Russian.

Great fight, great performance; and new…

Who’s Next?

After his win at UFC 223, Khabib called out Georges St. Pierre. No….

I mean yes, but no.

We just came off a championship reign that lasted over 500 days without a single title defense. We need to start moving the queue of contenders in the right direction. What does that mean? No GSP.

However, there are some tremendous match-ups to be made at the top. The next two weeks feature heavy-duty contender fights in the lightweight division and the title’s next challenger should be determined from there. Obviously Khabib just beat Edson so that fight is off the table. But if Kevin Lee wins, that’s a no-brainer. If not, the winner of Poirier x Gaethje would be more than suitable.

Regardless of the path we go down during the next few months, I envision some serious violence coming our way. All we’ve got to do is sit back and wait for it all to unfold. It’s Khabib time people, let that wash over you.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Kevin Lee OR Winner of Gaethje x Poirier

#1 Rose Namajunas

Like I said at the top, UFC 223 featured the greatest women’s title fight of all-time.

Rose and Joanna threw down in a very technical manner. The footwork kept Rose in and out of range, landing hard left hooks and tight right hands. After two hard rounds, Joanna was banged up and in a bit of trouble. She then fought back. Rose started to slow as Joanna found her groove. Leg kicks hampered the movement of the champ and allowed JJ to climb back into contention.

In the end, the fight fell in favor of “Thug Rose” and rightfully so.

The leg kicks were pretty damn effective. But Rose landed hard shots, controlled the range and largely displayed a level of skill we had not seen from her. It was an impressive performance from a young champion with loads of time to improve and a great team behind her.

There was no doubt in my mind that she won that fight and there is no doubt in my mind that she is the best strawweight on planet earth. Their score is settled, time to move on.

Yeah,,,I guess she won the third too.

Who’s Next?

So there’s two ways we can go with this one.

Perhaps the most obvious of the two would be Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Headlining the prelims of UFC 223, KK defeated Felice Herrig in what should have been a unanimous decision, but instead ended in a split. Regardless, her performance was worthy of some praise and with a win over Rose just 2 years ago, it seems a rematch could be in order.

But Jessica Andrade would beg to differ. Two consecutive wins have brought her to the top of the strawweight rankings where a fresh match-up could be found with the champ.

And the bout would be world’s of fun. Andrade moving forward with those heavy hooks waiting to land while the angle-laden technical paralysis of “Thug Rose” peers through? That’s a damn fight people.

Still, if I must choose one; i’m taking my girl Karolina.

It’s not the fresh match-up many would love to see. But she’s deserving of the shot and with a bit of history between them, the UFC may just be able to sell this fight to the general public.

Rose Namajunas vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz

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