What appeared to be a dream card is in absolute shambles after the past 48 hours. Mcgregor’s actions Thursday led to 3 fighters being removed from the card. Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg were both forced out of their fights due to injury. Both men’s injuries occurred when Mcgregor threw an object at the bus that was carrying fighters. Artem Lobov was also removed from the card because of his involvement in the incident. Adding to these misfortunes, Max Holloway missed weight, which led to UFC fan favorite Al Iaquinta to take this fight on a days notice.
Even with all this misfortune the show must go on. Here are my predictions for the fights that are official for UFC 223!
Khabib vs Iaquinta: This is the third time this main event has been changed. It shows what type of fighter Khabib is. Not caring who is opponent is, he believes he’s the best and he’ll fight whomever the UFC puts in front of him. Al Iaquinta has a chance to shock the world. Al Iaquinta is a huge underdog coming into this fight. Personally I think Iaquinta has a better chance at beating Khabib than Max Holloway did. Iaquinta has very technical boxing and very good wrestling. When it comes to Khabib you know exactly what his game plan is coming into the octagon. Pressure you against the cage take you down and smother you. Every opponent knows this is his game plan but still can’t stop it. When Khabib wants to take you down he’s going to take you down. Iaquinta has phenomenal takedown defense and uses his jab perfectly to set up his right hand. Iaquinta has a quick and powerful right hand that can shut any lightweight’s lights out. Ask any MMA fan and they would hands pick Khabib in this one; and who could blame them? 25-0 speaks for itself. Khabib is one of these best fighters in the UFC that the world doesn’t know it yet. Al Iaquinta has absolutely nothing to lose because he took this fight on a day notice and no one expects him to win. UFC fans are going to call me crazy for this one. My prediction for this one is Al Iaquinta wins by 1st round KO. All the events leading up to this card have been so crazy I expect something absolutely crazy to happen on this card. Al Iaquinta pulling off the upset of a lifetime would be the cherry on top. Today is the anniversary of Matt Serra pulling the biggest upset in UFC history when he knocked out GSP. Matt Serra is one of the coaches of Al Iaquinta, and if Iaquinta pulls it off tonight it would be like something out of a movie. If I get this prediction wrong it won’t be a surprise to anyone, but I have a gut feeling a massive upset is going to happen. Khabib winning is the easy pick. My Official prediction Raging Al gets it done via 1st round KO.
Namajunas vs Jedrzejczyk 2: This is one of the most highly anticipated rematches in UFC history. At UFC 217 Rose Namajunas shocked the world when she knocked out Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the fist round. Rose was a massive underdog, but her calm demeanor said other wise. Joanna has blamed a rough weight cut as the reason for her loss at UFC 217. She has promised a much better version of herself at UFC 223. Will this fight go any different though? Right now Joanna is the favorite going into this fight, but I think Rose should be the favorite. The biggest problem heading into this rematch for Joanna is she hasn’t once gave credit to Rose. Joanna has so far blamed her loss entirely on the weight cut. Rose is a very high level strawweight who is still only 25 years old. Rose has great striking and a great ground game. Rose Namajunas is one of the only strawweights known for finishing fights. Whether it is on the feet or on the ground Namajunas is a finisher. Joanna’s striking is different she has really quick hands and her in and out movement is very swift. Joanna also has very good takedown defense, which is key in this fight. When Joanna is on her game she is one of the most difficult fighters to fight. My prediction for this fight is it’ll last much longer than the first fight between these two. I think Joanna is going to come into this fight as a much better version of herself. I think Rose is going to face some adversity at the beginning of this fight. Eventually I think Rose will catch Joanna, take her back and choke her out. Rose’s distance and reach will be too much for Joanna. My official prediction for this fight is Rose wins via 3rd round submission.
Kattar vs Moicano: Massachusetts native Calvin Kattar makes his second appearance in 2018. His first appearance came at UFC 220 when he beat Shane Burgos. In Moicano’s last fight he lost to Brian Ortega. Kattar has very good footwork and very good boxing. I think Moicano stays to square and gets very wild with his punches at times. This could play in Kattar’s favor. Kattar has a quick and powerful right hand, if Moicano gets too wild and stays to square I see Kattar catching him. My official prediction for this fight is Kattar winning via 2rd round KO.
Magomedsharipov vs Bochniak: Zabit Magomedsharipov is one of the best young prospects in the UFC. It’s easy to see why when he is 6’1 fighting at 145 pounds. This is unheard of. Zabit has the reach advantage over anyone in the featherweight division. He’s very versatile too, 6 wins by KO 6 wins by submission. Bochniak is fighter that goes under a lot of people’s radar. Bochniak has very good footwork and is always moving around the octagon. Bochniak is tough but the range and versatility of Zabit is going to be too much. Zabit’s constant pressure and range will lead him to victory. My official prediction for this one is Zabit winning via 3rd round TKO.
Herrig vs Kowalkiewicz: Felice Herrig vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz is a very important fight in the woman’s strawweight division. Kowalkiewicz has very good stand up and a very good chin. Herrig has decent stand up but has a big ground advantage in this fight. If it goes to the ground I think Herrig wins no problem. If it stays on the feet I think Karolina will be constantly pressuring Herrig. I think Kowalkiewicz’s striking is going to be the deciding factor in this fight. As long as Kowalkiewicz’s keeps it standing I think she should get the win in this one. My official prediction Karolina Kowalkiewicz wins via decision.
Stephen Caloggero (@steveo_calo)