Khabib Nurmagomedov is the new undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion, but anyone who expected it to be an easy victory for him was sorely mistaken.
Khabib took on “Ragin'” Al Iaquinta, a late replacement for Featherweight Champion Max Holloway.
Al held the center of the cage and swung for the fences but missed. Khabib returned with a sloppy takedown attempt. He wasn’t going to make that mistake twice, though. Khabib hit the same single with ease and got side control. He then went for the back but Iaquinta worked his way back up. He wasn’t up for long, though, as the Russian took him down with authority and then moved to full mount. Al struggled to work his way back up, but Khabib stayed on his back and landed in shots from behind.
Again Al worked his way back up to his feet, but again Khabib took him right back down. The Russian landed more punches. Again, he rode the back and pressed Iaquinta up against the cage as the round drew to a close.
Khabib started Round 2 with a front kick to the face. Al landed a nice punch and was no doubt looking to keep the match standing. Khabib, however, wasn’t and went for his single again. Much like the first round, he was unsuccessful on the first attempt, but nailed it on the second.
The Russian was in Iaquinta’s guard, but again moved his way to the back to ride his opponent and land more punches. The crowd wasn’t liking it, though.
Khabib moved to full mount and Al gave up his back. This time, the Russian got some hooks in and began fishing for the neck. Al turned to his side. The Russian flattened his opponent out, though, and began punching away at the side of the head.
Iaquinta tried to get out, but the Russian stayed on and hammered away as the round ended.
Khabib landed a right at the beginning of Round 3. Al held the center of the cage and stalked his opponent. The Russian hit him with some jabs, though, looking to keep the match standing…for a little while, at least. Khabib then went in for the single he landed earlier, but again he missed.
Iaquinta’s face was bloodied, but he still stalked his opponent in a low stance as the crowd chanted “USA!”
Al landed a counter right. Khabib went for a spinning back kick. Iaquinta ended the third round with huge swing and a miss. Surprisingly, the entire third round was fought on the fighters’ feet.
Khabib didn’t want to keep it that way, though, in Round 4. He went for the single that he went for in the previous three rounds, but failed. Al then chased his opponent away with punches.
Again, the crowd chanted “USA!”
For the second time in the round, Khabib went for his single, but he failed again.
Surprisingly, Al went for a takedown of his own. Khabib shook it off, but Iaquinta landed a nice punch before the Russian could get away. Al chased Khabib around the cage for the rest of the fight.
Fifth and final round and Khabib starts off immediately with a takedown attempt. Iaquinta landed a huge left and then followed up with a heavy combination. He wasn’t going to make it easy for Khabib. The Russian interestingly kept his chin high, making it easy for Iaquinta to hit him.
Khabib pressed Al up against the fence, but Iaquita got away and landed a punch.
Finally, the Russian landed a takedown and got on the back. Iaquinta bled badly from his nose. Khabib went back to his first and second round tactics: riding Iaquinta with his hooks in until the round was over.
It was enough to impress the judges, and Khabib Nurmagomedov now reigns atop the UFC’s Lightweight mountain.