Kicking off a completely reworked UFC 223 main card in Brooklyn, Chris Gruetzemacher weathered an early storm and pulverized and bloodied Joe Lauzon into a rarely seen MMA corner stoppage, then Zabit Magomedsharipov and Kyle Bochniak engaged in an unforgettable, crazy battle that unanimously earned the crowd’s approval. It was no doubt a clear Magomedsharipov win in the end, but take nothing away from Bochniak’s courageous effort. Here’s how the fights played out.
Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Kyle Bochniak by unanimous decision (30-27, 20-27, 29-28) - Featherweights
Bochniak closed distance on the bigger, longer Zabit to start things off. Magomedsharipov stayed calm and composed, digging in a lethal body kick and evading Bochniak’s power punches. Zabit unleashed his bag of creative strikes, including spinning back kicks and cartwheel kicks and jumping switch kicks. To Bochniak’s credit, he wasn’t overwhelmed during the round and didn’t take too much damage. A head kick by Zabit caught Bochniak on the side of the head. Bochniak just avoided a spinning backfist that could’ve been a fight ender. All things considered, a really fun round.
Much as he did in round 1, Bochniak came forward flurrying the power punches in round 2. A massive thud could be heard when Magomedsharipov planted his shin across Bochniak’s ribs. Zabit then managed a body lock and sought the takedown. He slammed Bochniak down twice over, with the second one putting him in Bochniak’s guard. Bochniak got back to his feet without absorbing too many ground shots. Bochniak was goading Zabit to hit him on the chin, as if to say his punches couldn’t hurt him. Kyle was bleeding out of his right eye. Bochniak ate a wicked uppercut and then had an otherworldly takedown. Bochniak remained as competitive as can be even though he was outgunned.
Bochniak swung away again in round 3, showing off amazing fearlessness and toughness. Unfortunately, he was bleeding profusely and getting worked over in the wrestling department. It was just a virtuoso showing against a man who has a ton of heart and will that made him nigh impossible to put away. Bochniak was able to slip Magomedsharipovv of his back, but couldn’t do much else with that window of opportunity. The final minute was just a toe-to-toe slugfest for the ages, with neither man wobbling the other. It was spectacular MMA and surely the Fight of the Night frontrunner.
Chris Gruetzemacher def. Joe Lauzon by TKO (corner stoppage) at 5:00 of round 2 - Lightweights
Lauzon punished Gruetzemacher’s overaggression in the first few seconds, tagging Chris repeatedly with hard power punches. A hard elbow and a right hand stopped Gruetzemacher in his tracks, then the fight went to the ground with Chris on top. Gruetzemacher got off some ground-and-pound to the head and body. then Lauzon went for a heel hook. The submission attempt was unsuccessful, but he did get back to his feet. They traded short standing elbows in the center of the cage, and it certainly had the look of a textbook grueling Joe Lauzon fight. Defense was largely optional and Lauzon was clearly slowing down. Gruetzemacher rocked Lauzon with an uppercut, but took his timeand picked his shots nicely. Body shots, head shots, he mixed up his strikes brilliantly and took the opening frame.
The onslaught of punishment continued into round 2, and Lauzon was unable to get the takedown. He was bleeding out of his right eye and getting tattooed with any shot Chris decided to throw. Lauzon remained as tough as nails but struggling to throw back with any steam. Gruetzemacher was walking through Lauzon’s tired shots and pressuring him relentlessly. Uppercuts backed Lauzon up and bloodied his face further. Another body shot doubled Lauzon over. Lauzon was just way too tough for his own good, and the corner stopped it before round 3 could begin.
Gruetzemacher improves to 2-2 in the UFC, while Lauzon has lost three in a row, and that might be the last time we see him in the Octagon.