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Watch: Relive Khabib Nurmagomedov's epic lightweight title fight against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223

UFC 223: Nurmagomedov v Iaquinta
UFC 223: Nurmagomedov v Iaquinta
Tarun Bhatt
Modified 07 Apr 2021

On April 7th in 2018, Khabib Nurmagomedov claimed the UFC lightweight title at UFC 223. The Dagestani fighter had to deal with bizarre circumstances leading up to the title match - from the last-minute change of opponents to Conor McGregor throwing a dolly at Nurmagomedov's bus.

Khabib Nurmagomedov was originally expected to face Tony Ferguson at UFC 223. The fight was supposed to be for the undisputed belt as Conor McGregor had been stripped of his lightweight crown. The promotion did this due to the Irishman's inactivity in the Octagon.

But as luck would have it, Tony Ferguson had to pull out from the UFC 223 main event as 'El Cucuy' damaged his knee while training. The promotion decided to rope in then-featherweight champion Max Holloway to replace Ferguson.

The short-notice appointment made the matchup even more exciting as Holloway had the opportunity to become the second two-weight champion in the UFC.

However, a day prior to the match, another setback hindered Khabib Nurmagomedov's title shot as the New York Commission deemed the Hawaiian medically unfit to fight. 'The Eagle' was left without an opponent just 24 hours before the event.

Paul Felder vouched to save the day but the NYSAC rejected his appeal as he was unranked. So, the UFC decided to enlist Al Iaquinta for the main event, who was Felder's original opponent for UFC 218. The Brooklyn native stepped on the scales slightly above the weight limit but the UFC greenlighted the event nevertheless.

Khabib Nurmagomedov's grappling ability was on full display in the main event of UFC 223 and dominated Al Iaquinta to win the fight via unanimous decision.

Conor McGregor attacked Khabib Nurmagomedov's team after the UFC 223 presser


Following the UFC 223 pre-fight press conference, Conor McGregor rushed in with his crew to assault Khabib Nurmagomedov's team.

Nurmagomdevod was leaving the arena along with other fighters on a bus, which was attacked by Conor McGregor. The Irishman threw a dolly at the bus which shattered a window before he fled the scene. The ruckus ultimately created one of the biggest rivalries in UFC history.

Despite all the hurdles in his way, Khabib Nurmagomedov powered through a difficult week and captured the 155-lbs title at UFC 223.

Published 07 Apr 2021, 18:50 IST
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