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Days after Max Holloway’s withdrawal, UFC 222 still in flux

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TUF 22 Finale Photos
Frankie Edgar
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The state of UFC 222 is still very much up in the air.

News broke four days ago that the event’s original headliner, Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar for the UFC featherweight title, had been canceled after Holloway suffered an ankle injury a week ago.

Since then, the UFC has tried to replace that title fight with another but to no avail.

Here’s where things currently stand for the card scheduled on March 3 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas:

  • Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega have verbally agreed to fight. When? That’s still up in the air. The current hope is to have them fight on March 3, however, the UFC did try to book the fight on the Feb. 24 UFC on FOX card in Orlando, Fla., but that was deemed too soon.
  • It’s still unclear whether the fight will be a three-round title eliminator or a five-round main event. Right now, both options are in play. If the UFC can somehow book a title fight for March 3, Edgar-Ortega will serve as a three-round co-main event. If not, the UFC is considering turning the pay-per-view event into a Fight Night show and thus the fight will be a main event.
  • One potential hurdle was cleared earlier this week when Ortega agreed in principle to a new multi-fight contract with the UFC, per multiple sources.
  • Introducing an interim title has not been discussed at this time. While it’s still unclear when Holloway will be able to return to action, the winner of Edgar vs. Ortega is expecting to fight for the belt.
  • There’s also a chance the UFC scraps the entire event and moves the fight — along with the other fights booked on the card — to another date. That’s an absolute last resort for the company.

As for title fight options, here’s where things stand:

  • The UFC initially tried to replace Holloway vs. Edgar with TJ Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt 2 for the bantamweight title, but Dillashaw and his team, as they have stated publicly, weren’t interested.
  • Related to the previous point: it’s unclear at this time whether Dillashaw’s decision to turn down the Garbrandt rematch will affect his chances of getting the Demetrious Johnson super-fight later this year.
  • Meanwhile, the UFC also tried to book Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya for the women’s featherweight title, but that couldn’t happen either.
  • There was also some talk of booking UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, but to no avail.
  • Currently, every other champion is either booked in an upcoming fight, injured or won’t be ready to fight in less than a month.
  • And according to multiple sources, the UFC hasn’t engaged in serious talks with Nate Diaz to headline the card.

So, that’s where things currently stand with UFC 222. A developing situation is still developing. But don’t tell that to, who still has Holloway vs. Edgar listed as the UFC 222 main event, despite the fact that both Holloway and Edgar have already publicly acknowledged that the fight isn’t happening next month.