UFC 223 results: Khabib Nurmagomedov demolishes Al Iaquinta to win lightweight title
"The Eagle" has finally landed as the 155-pound champion in UFC
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- It may have taken longer than expected, but Khabib Nuragomedov has got his UFC belt. "The Eagle" faced off with Al Iaquinta in the-- Khabib's third scheduled opponent in six days -- and put on the performance many fans hoped to see.
Nurmagomedov suffocated Iaquinta early on with his wrestling and all-out, nonstop pressure, forcing Iaquinta into a shell. After two absolute dominant rounds, Nurmagomedov chose to stay on his feet and box with Iaquinta, keeping fans engaged after some booed his groundwork. He showed flair as well while he touched Iaquinta with is jab as he circled the cage, invoking idol Muhammad Ali's charismatic style.
"The fact that Khabib got through this week, and still fought is amazing," UFC president Dana White said. "He told me this week 'I haven't been home to see my kids since September.' This week, it was draining. I'm drained. I couldn't imagine going through the week I did and having to go fight."
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After four strong rounds, both fighters started throwing even heavier shots in the final five minutes, but Nurmagomedov went back to his destructive ground-and-pound ways, securing Iaquinta's back and unloading even more huge punches. As the final horn rang, Nurmagomedov broke out in a huge smile knowing the wait was finally over. Of the 25 minutes of action in the fight, Nurmagomedov was in control for 10:32. He outlanded Iaquinta 179 to 25 and landed 47 percent of his strikes to Iaquinta's 17.
"I have to start by saying that I would not be here without my father. Coach Javier has taught me so much. My team has made me the best in the world. There is not another team like us in the world. I keep trying to learn from them and be better."
During his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Nurmagomedov made sure to mention now former champion Conor McGregor, who was banned from attending Saturday's action after his attack the fighters' bus on Thursday afternoon.
"Where Conor? He want to fight with bus? I want to fight with real gangster."
After securing his first UFC title, Nurmagomedov called for a shot at legend Georges St-Pierre at Madison Square Garden in November. He also mentioned that he would fight again right now if given the chance.
"It's like Georges St-Pierre said, 'even when you are a black belt, you have to think like a white belt'. And now, I want to fight Georges St-Pierre in November at Madison Square Garden," Nurmagomedov said. "I want to say thank you to Iaquinta for stepping up and fighting. He is a real Brooklyn gangster. I want to fight the best. Right now, give me 30 minutes rest, drink a little water and I can fight with anyone. Doesn't matter."
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