In the face of a super-card turning to a complete disaster, UFC 223 somehow managed to come out pretty well.
Conor McGregor’s antics after the media day gained the largest amount of attention.
McGregor and his entourage were filmed by multiple people allegedly assaulting a bus containing multiple fighters on the card with several items including chairs, a guardrail which was not used, and a luggage dolly, which McGregor himself allegedly threw.
The dolly went through a window on the bus, as seen in video footage released by TMZ Sports and linked by Caposa.
yoooooo… first time seeing this one. Conor has legit lost his mind. pic.twitter.com/XcLFd2FIMo
— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) April 5, 2018
Artem Lobov, a teammate of McGregor at SBG Ireland, was pulled from his fight against Alex Caceres for his alleged involvement.
The fight between Ray Borg and Branden Moreno which had already been rescheduled once was delayed again when Borg went to the hospital claiming not to be able to close his eye, as stated by MMAFighting.com. Borg was on the bus and apparently had smaller pieces of glass in his eye.
However, the biggest result of the incident came with the cancellation of Michael Chiesa’s fight against Anthony Pettis. Chiesa allegedly recieved multiple facial lacerations when the window shattered. Chiesa wanted to fight, but the New York State Athletic Commission removed him from the fight citing his lacerations, as reported by Shaun Al-Shatti.
McGregor also attempted to hit a van containing Khabib Nurmagomedov, who had some choice words for his friend Lobov over the week or so prior to the card. Many seem to believe this may have been a major contributing factor to the incident.
McGregor turned himself in to the New York Police Department, alongside SBG teammate Cian Cowley. The Notorious One was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. McGregor posted bail at $50,000 and Cowley posted a $25,000 bail to get out of jail. The two were allowed to return to Ireland, where they remain now.
UFC President Dana White was fuming after the incident, claiming that Conor was “done.” He appears to have walked back on that after thinking it over, however.
Main Event Mayhem
The Lightweight main event looked to be a blockbuster. Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson were finally scheduled to fight. The two had been booked three times prior in the past three years, but it finally seemed that the long-awaited super-fight would happen, with the Lightweight title on the line, no less. Conor McGregor had been stripped of the Lightweight title due to inactivity, meaning the winner of Nurmagomedov/Ferguson would become the new undisputed champion.
However, Ferguson tripped on a camera cable a week before the card, and injured his knee. Max Holloway, the UFC Featherweight champion, stepped in with the chance to become a double champion like McGregor. Holloway was deemed “medically unfit to compete” by the New York State Athletic Commission as they felt his weight cut was dangerous to his health. Holloway wanted to continue the cut, but was not allowed, as reported by MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani.
Anthony Pettis attempted to step in, his scheduled fight against Michael Chiesa having been cancelled due to Conor McGregor’s actions. Pettis weighed in at 155.2 pounds, .2 pounds over the chamopionship limit, and did not weigh in again, meaning the main event now had to look to a fourth potential opponent.
Unranked lightweight Paul Felder offered to step in, but was disallowed by NYSAC due to the ranking discrepancy between Felder and the number 2 ranked Nurmagomedov, as reported by Helwani.
Al Iaquinta weighed in at 155.2 pounds, but the fight was allowed to go on by NYSAC with the understanding that Iaquinta could not win the title. However, Dana White stated that Iaquinta would be recognized as champion as far as the company could do so without commission approval.
Finally, after five opponents, four on one day, the main event was set. Nurmagomedov dominated Iaquinta, at least according to the judges, who scored it 50-44,50-43, and 50-43 in a landslide to Nurmagomedov, who now stands as the undisputed UFC Lightweight champion.
Besides the main event, the three fights lost due to McGregor’s antics were simply scrapped. The card only had television preliminary fights, as there were no UFC Fight Pass preliminary fights. All together, the card only had nine fights, with the standard five pay-per-view fights and only four prelims compared to the usual seven.
The prelims were highlighted by a vicious liver shot KO of Evan Dunham by Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Aubin-Mercier is now on a four fight win streak and seems to be the next potential superstar to come from Tristar Gym in Montreal.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeated Felice Herrig via split decision in the pre-show main event. This could put her in line for a Strawweight title fight in the near future.
Ashlee Evans-Smith defeated Bec Rawlings via unanimous decision, and Devin Clark defeated Mike Rodriguez via UD earlier in the preliminary card.
Champion “Thug” Rose Namajunas defended her title against the woman she beat for it, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, in the co-main event. Namajunas had not defended the title against anyone else since she won it at UFC 217 in November 2017. Whereas the first fight ended in a first-round KO, the two battled to the end of the fight, with all three judges scoring the fight 49-46 to Namajunas. She dispelled any judgments of being a “fluke” or “paper champion” by going five rounds with the most dominate strawweight in the world.
Earlier on the main card, Renato Moicano defeated Calvin Kattar via UD, Zabit Magomedsharipov defeated Kyle Bochniak via UD, and Chris Gruetzemacher defeated Joe Lauzon when Lauzon’s corner refused to let him continue into the third after a series of unanswered punches in the second round.
UFC 223, in spite of all it’s trials and tribulations, was a good and enjoyable card. The main and co-main event were still the highlights of the show, even if the main event was just Khabib Nurmagomedov mauling Al Iaquinta. The strawweight fights delivered and showed that the division can remain strong after Joanna Jedzrejczyk’s fall from the top.
We will keep you posted on the Conor McGregor criminal situation as it develops.