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04 Apr 2018 by TSZ

MMA Preview – Max Holloway vs Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223

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AT A GLANCE

When is UFC 223? Sunday 8th April, 2018 – 01:00 (UK)

Where is UFC 223? Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

What channel is UFC 223 on? BT Sport 2

Where can I stream UFC 223? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website

Are tickets still available for UFC 223? http://uk.ufc.com/event-ticket...

THE STATISTICS

THE LOWDOWN

This is not an April Fools joke. Tony Ferguson has had to withdraw from the headlining title fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov making this the fourth time that this bout has been scrapped.

However, the main event has been saved by the current featherweight champion, Max Holloway. An absolute warrior, he steps up on just six days’ notice to take on ‘The Beast’. The winner will claim the lightweight title, setting up one of the biggest fights in MMA history with Conor McGregor.

Interestingly, there are a lot of similarities with how Ferguson and Holloway shape up against the Dagestani demon. They have a similar frame, record and style with an extremely high and contrasting skill-set. The Hawaiian is incredibly dangerous on the feet and although more orthodox – he is unpredictable like Ferguson. He is inventive, aggressive and relentlessly inflicts damage at the end of his range.

This has been a key contributor of his success at featherweight against smaller fighters but as he won’t enjoy that familiar reach and size advantage, his movement will have to be on point.

That said, we have come to learn that good movement and distance control usually counts for nothing against Nurmagomedov. His grappling borderlines on the inhumane; he ragdolls opponents utilising subtle techniques to enforce brutal ground and pound where he has accumulated the majority of his striking stats, wreaking havoc on his opponents.

THE PREDICTION

With the talents of Holloway, we can still assume he will dictate the stand-up battle for as long as it remains on the feet. He is prone to taking damage (with 3.9 significant strikes absorbed per minute) so will have to be wary of the wild, aggressive strikes of Nurmagomedov.

Holloway will back his chin and strong jab to set up his own offence but one mistake and he will be on his back which will be the last place he wants to be. Nobody has provided an answer for Nurmagomedov’s elite grappling so far but Holloway possesses the tools to cause the upset.

He comes into this fight on the back of two titanic TKO wins over one of the best fighters of all time in Jose Aldo and will also be encouraged by Michael Johnson’s fight with Nurmagomedov where he exposed his vulnerability on the feet.

So, Holloway knows there is a route to victory and that is delivering the killer blows before the takedown. It is usually hard to bet against Holloway but as the Russian’s game plan won’t change, you have to back the weeks of preparation for Ferguson and mutant strength to enable him to get his hands on Holloway at some point. Five rounds may be too much time to endure so a finish from Nurmagomedov is likely. If you want to bet on an upset – go for a Holloway TKO.

Winner: Nurmagomedov via Submission

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