Nurmagomedov received some criticism for his striking skills during the fight, but Iaquinta says the new champion's abilities are just fine.
“His standup was really good,” Iaquinta said on The MMA Hour. “I felt like I was a step behind him, just from the first two rounds of trying to get up and stay against the cage, he was kind of wearing on me a little bit. So I felt a little behind, but his jab is good. Every time I tried to let so combos go, he’s awkward, he’s got like the Russians — it’s just a different style of boxing. They were saying he’s got his head up. I connect with everybody. ... It was hard to get to him. He’s tough, he’s tough. He’s got his own style. He’s awkward. Maybe it doesn’t look like it from the outside, but, he’s definitely, he’s f*cking tough man.”
Nurmagomedov had to change things up when he fought Iaquinta, who took the title fight on just about a days notice. Iaquinta even believes that Nurmagomedov shares a mutual respect with him after their five round encounter.
“I knew we had a mutual respect on the standup when it was going back and forth, he was definitely worried about my power shots,” Iaquinta said. “But he kept me away with his jab and his movement was a little awkward and good.”
While Nurmagomedov’s striking skills did come under fire at UFC 223, it is worth noting that eight of his professional MMA wins have come by KO/TKO.