Nurmagomedov wins belt, despite brave Iaquinta effort

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Khabib Nurmagomedov has been crowned the new UFC lightweight champion after a tough week ultimately resulted in a competitive main event at UFC 223.

The build-up to the Brooklyn show had been overshadowed by Conor McGregor’s actions at the media day and the scramble to secure an opponent for Nurmagomedov after both Tony Ferguson and Max Holloway were not medically cleared.

Number 11 ranked Al Iaquinta eventually stepped in, despite repeatedly criticising the UFC management over the last year, and the American gave Nurmagomedov a surprisingly tough time.

But Nurmagomedov’s superior quality eventually secured him the win on the judges’ scorecards, with his 26-0 record seeing him awarded the belt that was stripped from McGregor.

The Russian then immediately challenged former middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre to a fight at November’s show at Madison Square Garden.

Iaquinta’s best work came in the third and fourth rounds when the two fighters exchanged punches after Nurmagomedov put him under pressure earlier in the bout with a couple of takedowns.

But after instructions from his corner, Nurmagomedov upped his work-rate in the final round – connecting with kicks and knees, before another takedown.

Iaquinta survived until the bell, although there was no doubting the winner, as the judges awarded the bout to Nurmagomedov with scores of 50-44, 50-43 and 50-43.

In the show’s other main fight, Rose Namajunas successfully defended her women’s straw-weight belt in a rematch against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

The pair first met last November when Namajunas produced a stunning first-round knockout.

Although the rematch was a much tighter affair, Namajunas handed Jedrzejczyk a second successive defeat after earning a unanimous decision from the judges.