Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight titleholder, Khabib Nurmagomedov, ran through late-replacement Al Iaquinta in the UFC 223 pay-per-view (PPV) main event last Saturday night (April 7, 2018) after “Raging Al” was promoted to headliner in the wake of this fiasco.
Because “The Eagle” stepped into the cage with a perfect 25-0 record after pretty much running through the division up until that point, anything short of homicide was going to be a complete letdown, since most mixed martial arts (MMA) fans were expecting this fight.
During the Iaquinta contest, which spent way more time on the feet than any of us were expecting, cageside commentator Joe Rogan heavily criticized the striking of Nurmagomedov, to the point where it sounded (gasp) BIASED!
Rogan apologizes on Instagram:
“Make no mistake about it, Khabib won that fight by a landslide, but it went to a decision, and that in and of itself was an upset. When I’m looking at a fighter as spectacularly talented as Khabib fighting a guy like Al who is an almost impossible underdog I’m not just looking at this fight, but I’m looking at openings that can possibly be exploited by the best fighters in the division. I saw some of those openings Saturday night, and I certainly found them interesting. In no way am I biased against Khabib, in fact I’m a massive fan of his and he’s one of my all time favorite fighters. If any of you were annoyed by my concentrating on that aspect of an incredibly dominant performance by one of the most impressive guys in the history of the division, please accept my sincere apology.”
Post-fight apologies are nothing new for the part-time comic.
Despite his reign of terror, Nurmagomedov has never been known for his scintillating stand up, instead relying on his world-class wrestling and suffocating top game to handily dispose of opponents and set UFC records along the way.
With Ramadan just around the corner, expect “The Eagle” to nest until late summer or early fall, right around the same time Conor McGregor makes his way back to the Octagon, depending on what (if any) legal action hinders the “Notorious” bus breaker.
As for this champ? That remains to be seen.