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Round 1: “Big” John McCarthy the third man in the cage for this bout. Lightning fast leg kicks from Barboza to start. Punch to the body and another leg kick by Barboza. The inside leg kick is connecting repeatedly, then a body kick. Nurmagomedov catches a knee and he’s got a hold on Barboza against the cage. The Brazilian pivots free. More kicks to the body by Barboza. Nurmagomedov lunging in with straight punches. He attempts a flying knee to close the distance and then gets a hold of Barboza to put him on his back. Big punches from top position as Barboza tries to push him off with a foot. Nurmagomedov has Barboza stacked up. He transitions into half guard. Works into mount, tying up Barboza’s legs with his. Ground and pound from Nurmagomedov. Straight punches to Barboza’s face. More ground and pound and Barboza momentarily gives up his back, he manages to get Nurmagomedov back into his half guard. Nurmagomedov all over Barboza. Nurmagomedov postures up and lands another big punch.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-8, Nurmagomedov.
Round 2: Nurmagomedov with the kicks to start the second round. He’s being aggressive with his striking, not worried about what Barboza will do. Jabs by Nurmagomedov are connecting. Nurmagomedov cuts off the cage, uses his striking to get in, and then locks up with Barboza against the fence. Nurmagomedov with short punches as Barboza is focused entirely on defending against the takedown. Huge spinning kick by Barboza is blocked. He’s landing punches and kicks to the body though. 1-2 combo by Nurmagomedov. Single leg attempt and Barboza almost slips free, but he just doesn’t have the energy to keep his balance. Nurmagomedov back into half guard. Left hands from top position by “The Eagle.” He’s pummeling Barboza with unanswered shots. Barboza’s face is a bruised up mess. Nurmagomedov happy to keep Barboza’s left leg trapped and punch away at him. He wails away on Barboza to close out another dominant period.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-8, Nurmagomedov. Overall, 20-16 Nurmagomedov.
Round 3: Nurmagomedov stalking Barboza now, content to throw 1-2 combinations and absorb wild shots from Barboza. He grapples again and just drags Barboza down. His mouth is hanging open as Nurmagomedov grinds him against the cage, but Barboza stays upright 90 seconds into the final frame. Nurmagomedov staying on that single leg. After about a minute, Barboza is able to escape. He’s still on the backfoot though as Nurmagomedov marches forward. Spin kick by Barboza partially lands, then he tries a second that is less successful. Barboza with the takedown attempt now and Nurmagomedov makes him pay by quickly reversing the situation and getting back into top position. Punches from half guard by Nurmagomedov. More short punches as Barboza is on his knees trying to crawl away. Barboza tries to land a desperation knee, then a head kick. No luck.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9, Nurmagomedov. Overall, 30-25 Nurmagomedov.
Official result: Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Edson Barboza via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-24)