Undoubtedly, UFC 223 has shaped up to be best card of the year so far. The top eight fights of this lineup, in particular, have a lot to offer.
Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov battle to be recognized as the best fighter in the lightweight division. Rose Namajunas is set to make her first title defense against the most dominant champion in the female strawweight division’s history, Joanna Jędrzejczyk. There are plenty of other great fights to look forward to, including Michael Chiesa’s clash with Anthony Pettis and Al Iaquinta’s scrap with Paul Felder. Even the preliminary card has some compelling fights, including Karolina Kowalkiewicz’s showdown with Felice Herrig. These fights and more present an excellent opportunity for UFC fans to be pumped up for the card.
With current lightweight champion Conor McGregor still out of the picture and likely to be out for a while, it has been stated multiple times leading up to the fight that this highly anticipated main event between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov will determine the real champion. This fight, scheduled for the fourth time in the past three years, is already predicted to be one of the best fights of the year. Every MMA fan is dying to see this one.
The co-headliner is a women’s strawweight title rematch between current champion Namajunas and former titleholder Jędrzejczyk. Namajunas was a sizable underdog coming into their last fight, but the gap has closed significantly. Notably, though, Namajunas remains the underdog here. It will be a crucial fight for both ladies, and especially for Jędrzejczyk, who has only lost once in her career.
Renato Moicano and Calvin Kattar combine for a heavily underrated fight. We saw how good Kattar looked in his last few fights, especially when he broke onto the scene by defeating Andre Fili at UFC 214. Moicano only has one loss on his record — it came against the next featherweight title challenger, Brian Ortega — and he still has massive potential to be great in the near future.
Chiesa and Pettis are two big names in the lightweight division. There’s plenty of pressure on both guys to prove something to the division, and this storyline makes the match all the more compelling. Chiesa, though coming off a loss, has been among the elite in the lightweight division for several years now. Pettis is a former champion still looking to find his old form.
The pay-per-view opens with Iaquinta’s bout against Felder. It’s another excellent lightweight pairing. “The Irish Dragon” has looked pretty spectacular in his last few fights. He’s finished his last three opponents. Iaquinta has not been very active, but he is coming off an impressive finish of Diego Sanchez. These two will look to eliminate each other on their way to the top.
With the card a little more than two weeks away, it would be a good time to take a look at the odds. TopBet Sportsbook provides odds for the top eight fights on this card, and some of the odds do look quite surprising. The results of this card will tell us a whole lot about the future for many of these fighters and even signal some developments near the top of certain divisions.