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UFC 223 start time, TV schedule, who is fighting tonight at ‘Khabib vs Iaquinta’

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MMA: UFC 205-Nurmagomedov vs Johnson Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business tonight after a weeks-long break (Sat., April 7, 2018) for UFC 223 in Brooklyn, N.Y., featuring a re-worked pay-per-view (PPV) main event between No. 2-ranked Lightweight contender, Khabib Nurmagomedov, against last-minute replacement, Al Iaquinta, as well as a women’s championship rematch between Rose Namajunas against former title holder, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, in a do-over five months in the making.

What’s Hot:

We thought we were finally going to get much-anticipated showdown between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, but of course the mixed martial arts (MMA) gods simply don’t want us to see it .... EVER!

That said, the replacement fight could’ve been even more intriguing, as current 145-pound champion stepped up to the plate in a big way to face “The Eagle” on just six days notice for the undisputed Lightweight strap. It’s something not everybody was willing to do. However, we didn’t get to have that, either, after New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) pulled “Blessed” from the card after deeming him medically unfit to compete.

After countless hours of negotiations and trying to lock down a fight for Khabib, Al Iaquinta agreed to face “The Eagle” in a five-round title fight (details). But, only Nurmagomedov is eligible to win the strap, as “Raging” came in over weight by a measly .2 pounds.

Original Card Vs. Actual Card:

Where do we begin, seriously?

We all know about Tony and Khabib getting scrapped for the fourth time, the replacement bout between “The Eagle” and Holloway was scrapped a day prior to showtime. And that was before all hell broke loose a day before.

After Conor McGregor and his gang of goons invaded media day and caused a violent scene (see it again here), fights started falling left and right. To begin with, UFC President Dana White pulled Artem Lobov from his fight against Alex Caceres for his involvement in the melee. A few hours later, Micheal Chiesa’s fight against Anthony Pettis was scrapped after “Maverick” was forced out of the bout because of lacerations to his face he obtained from flying glass. Also, Ray Borg was another innocent bystander caught in the middle of the madness, as his fight against Brandon Moreno was pulled when he started developing issues with his eyes after getting hit with flying shrapnel.

Also, Evan Dunham was originally set to face off against Mairbek Taisumov before visa issues took Mairbek out of the bout. As a result, Dunham will now face Olivier Aubin-Mercier

Injuries:

Suffering an injury in MMA during training is very common, but the way “El Cucuy” suffered his torn LCL had people baffled. According to Ferguson, the “freak accident” happened on the set of FOX after he made a sharp turn to greet someone, and ended up slipping on a electric cable.

As for how long Ferguson will be out, that is still up in the air, as surgery could keep him out for close to a year. And lets not forget about the injuries sustained by Chiesa and Borg, which we’ve already covered.

New Blood:

Mike Rodriguez is the only person making his Octagon debut at this event (full details here) after his impressive first round knockout via flying knee on Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series.” Rodriguez will take on Devin Clark, who is coming off a loss to Jan Błachowicz.

How The ‘Prelims’ Look:

The underbelly of the event features plenty of intriguing match ups, including the headlining women’s Strawweight battle between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Herrig has been on tear as of late, winning four in a row, inching her way closer to a title shot. If she can defeat the former title contender, she could be on her way.

Who Needs A Win Badly:

Based off wins and losses, Bec Rawlings needs a win badly after dropping three in a row to Tecia Torres, Paige Vanzant and Jessica-Rose Clark. While cuts in the women’s division’s are few and far between, Rawlings could be in danger of getting a pink slip if she drops her fourth straight against the Ashlee Evans-Smith.

Interest Level: 6/10

Joanna Jedrzejczyk threw out one excuse after another for her loss to Rose Namajunas back at UFC 217, but is adamant everything -- especially her weight cut -- is on track for the rematch. Now, she has the chance to not only get some redemption, but to reclaim her status as the queen of 115-pounds. “Thug Rose,” though, isn’t about to give it up so easy, as she is out to prove there was no “luck” involved in her first win.

What was supposed to be one of the most highly-anticipated events of the year became a mess in a hurry. In the end, we ended up with Khabib Nuramgomedov fighting Al Iaquinta on a days notice for the undisputed 155-pound strap, which only “The Eagle” is eligible to win.

Yes, really.

And we lost four other fights, as well, which means the event has been drastically handicapped.

Full UFC 223 Fight Card:

UFC 223 PPV Main Event:

155 lbs.: UFC Interim Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib NurmagomedovCANCELED — FULL STORY HERE

155 lbs.: UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov — CANCELED — FULL STORY HERE

155 LBS.: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta

UFC 223 PPV Co-Main Event:

115 lbs.: UFC Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

UFC 223 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):

145 lbs.: Calvin Kattar vs. Renato Moicano
145 lbs.: Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Kyle Bochniak
155 lbs.: Joe Lauzon vs. Chris Gruetzemacher

UFC 223 Prelims On FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):

115 lbs.: Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
125 lbs.: Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Bec Rawlings
115 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Evan Dunham
205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Michael Rodriguez
155 lbs.: Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis CANCELED — FULL STORY HERE
155 lbs.: Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta CANCELED — FULL STORY HERE
125 lbs.: Ray Borg vs. Brandon Moreno CANCELED — FULL STORY HERE
145 lbs.: Alex Caceres vs. Artem Lobov CANCELED — FULL STORY HERE

Remember, too, that Amazon and UFC struck a streaming partnership that allows you to watch UFC 223 later tonight online right here.

For more upcoming UFC events click here.