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Dana White: UFC 209’s loss of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson a ‘huge blow’

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LAS VEGAS — Tony Ferguson will not be fighting at UFC 209, despite some last-minute efforts by the UFC to explore the option of a replacement opponent following the withdrawal of Khabib Nurmagomedov.

UFC president Dana White confirmed the news on Friday at the press conference for Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre’s upcoming middleweight title fight, stating that the UFC planned to get through Saturday night before exploring what to do with Ferguson next.

“It’s obviously a huge blow, and I don’t know right now,” White said. “We’ve got to get through tomorrow night and do the fight, and then I’ll figure out what’s going to go on with those guys.”

Ferguson and Nurmagomedov were slated to fight for the UFC interim lightweight title in UFC 209’s heavily-anticipated co-main event, marking the third time that a bout between the two 155-pound contenders failed to make it to fight night over the last two years.

Nurmagomedov fell ill in the early hours Friday morning while attempting to cut weight and was transported to a local hospital. The UFC officially canceled the fight against Ferguson following Nurmagomedov’s absence at UFC 209’s official weigh-ins. Ferguson, meanwhile, successfully weighed in at 154.5 pounds.

In the hours after the announcement, several UFC lightweights offered their services as an eleventh-hour replacement to fight Ferguson on one day’s notice, including Michael Johnson, the only man to defeat Ferguson inside the Octagon. But ultimately things failed to come together, leaving Ferguson off the card and to be booked at a later date.

UFC 209 takes place March 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley looks to defend his title in a rematch against Stephen Thompson in the night’s main event.