The UFC 223 live experience gave me some hope for the future of the promotion. Even after the entire card was wrapped in bandages and thrown into the trash “Kobe” style, the night had energy that was through the roof.

Even with a replacement-replacement main event, fans were bouncing around the venue in support of the fighters. In, out, and around the venue you could see knockoff (or real, I have no idea) papakha hats that are synonymous with the Dagestani-Danger that is Khabib Nurmagomedov.

khabib papakha

Thug Rose tees and Polish flags populated the communes the way Affliction tees did back in the early stages of the UFC. Kernels that had missed the mouths of individuals from refillable popcorn buckets buttered the floor which signified the best concession-stand purchase was not the usual favorite in beer, but popcorn. Reason being? Thug Rose and the Boogeywoman put on a show no fan wanted to miss.

If you were wondering, Bruce Buffer’s voice is in fact equally as majestic as Morgan Freeman’s in person and he had the entire arena about to burst before the ladies threw the first punch. Rose had a masterful performance of counters and crisp striking that was the big surprise from their first matchup. She only brought the fight to the ground at the end of the final round when the W was all but clinched. It was a great output by both involved, as Joanna proved she was still a force in the Octagon that would likely put my lights out within 2 minutes.

Rose is, in my eyes, quickly becoming a fan favorite and someone that the UFC should rally behind. She promotes a message that is different than usual fighters gallivanting around and insulting opponents to “make a fight.” She’s a bad woman, because she’s a good person, and that’s a combination that should be front and center.

Moving on to the final performance of the night: a poor man’s Rocky IV.

Homegrown Ragin’ Al came out with the toughest walkout song in the history of walkout songs with “New York” by Ja Rule. I’m not even from New York but was compelled to pull for the Long Island native. There were small exchanges through the rounds but the majority of the fight was Khabib leaning on Iaquinta and racking up riding time like he was a college wrestler. The Russia vs USA plot had chants of “Rocky IV” ringing through the rows of fans, but this time we got the alternate ending. Khabib won unanimously, although most were surprised he didn’t come out with the finish. “The Eagle” train may have lost a little steam but all signs point to the next blockbuster event landing in Russia with McGregor against Nurmagomedov.

Who doesn’t love the Russian Mafia facing off against the Irish Mob?