Late yesterday afternoon, the news broke that Saturday’s UFC 223 main event, Tony Fergsuon vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, was cancelled due to an injury to Ferguson. It wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, just the latest let down in the sordid saga of the most snake-bitten fight in MMA history.
That saga may be at its end though. Speaking with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto shortly after the cancellation was announced, UFC President Dana White addressed the seemingly impossible-to-make-happen fight and whether fans could expect Nurmagomedov and Ferguson to get booked against each other down the line.
“Hell no,” White said. “I’m never making that fight ever again. Ever.”
If this is the last time the fight is ever booked and Nurmagomedov and Ferguson go the rest of their careers without ever facing one another, it won’t be for lack of trying. The pair have been scheduled to face each other on four separate occasions with each fight falling through for a variety of reasons and both men having pulled out of the bout twice.
Now, with Ferguson sidelined with a torn LCL that will require surgery, featherweight champion Max Holloway is stepping in on six days’ notice to face Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title. This quite literally adds insult to injury for Ferguson who will be stripped of his interim lightweight title the moment Nurmagomedov and Holloway start fighting.
“It goes away,” said White with regards to Ferguson’s interim belt. “This fight’s for the title. This fight is for the title. The winner of this fight will be the champion. . .
“As soon as these guys step in the ring and throw a punch, it’s on for the title and whoever wins, wins the title. We’ll see what happens with Conor over the next several months. I know he had expressed some interest in fighting in September.”
Conor McGregor, you may remember, is currently the undisputed lightweight champion, though that title seems likely to be stripped from him at the same time Ferguson’s is. McGregor hasn’t competed in MMA since winning the title at UFC 205 in November of 2016. When asked if McGregor was contacted about jumping in on short notice against Nurmagomedov, White said that the UFC wasn’t interested in only have a week to promote their biggest star and that it likely wouldn’t be possible for McGregor anyway.
“I don’t think Conor McGregor could make the weight on six day’s notice,” said White. “That’s a tough weight cut for him. Conor isn’t exactly the guy that I want to throw in as a late replacement fighter. He’s the guy that I want to make a fight with, have the right amount of time to promote the fight, have the fight in the right place, so I’m not interested in asking Conor to take the fight.”
McGregor has suggested that he would like to return to MMA later this year though who he would choose to face is still up for debate. Georges St-Pierre, Floyd Mayweather, and Nate Diaz have all been floated as possible opponents for McGregor along with Holloway, Nurmagomedov, and Ferguson. With two of those men now set to face each other on Saturday though, White thinks it could be for more than the lightweight title: it could also be for the McGregor “red panty night” sweepstakes.
“I think that Conor could return in September and it could be against one of these guys.”
SNAKEBITTEN. Tony Ferguson out of UFC 223, Max Holloway to step in and face Khabib Nurmagomedov for lightweight title.
Trip. Tony Ferguson explains ‘accident’ that led to his UFC 223 withdrawal.
Food off the table! Khabib Nurmagomedov issues statement on Tony Ferguson withdrawal: ‘Don’t talk too much anymore.’
Title. Robert Whittaker explains why he won’t wrestle for Australia in the Commonwealth Games.
Turn down for what. B.J. Penn says he doesn’t see how he could turn down a fight at UFC Hawaii.
When bad things happen, puppies help.
Countdown for the co-main event.
Of course he does.
Check out Khabib training.
Severe MMA. Slighty outdated podcast talking about UFC 223 and Bellator 196.
Severe MMA. And the important update with the Tony out and Khabib-Max conversations.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Tony heal up man. Just want to advise you, don’t talk too much anymore. Lot of thoughts in my head right now, but I don’t want to become like you. Hope, this lesson will teach you watch your mouth. ❗️ На счёт этой ситуации я просто хочу сказать Тони: больше не болтай, в голове конечно много мыслей, на тебя похожим не буду, надеюсь этот урок научит тебя следить за языком. #ready #ufc223 #Alhamdulillah #победатолькоотВсевышнего
I mean, at least they’re trying to fight?
Lol these guys can't even make it to war..— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) April 2, 2018
He’s right on this though.
They winging this whole shit— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) April 2, 2018
I would vote for this one. Just scrap Khabib on this card and book him versus Conor. It’s the fight anyway.
Where are you now? @TheNotoriousMMA— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) April 1, 2018
Didn’t he hurt himself just a couple of months back? Max is a wild one.
Player one ready pic.twitter.com/qawXYvzMLR— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) April 1, 2018
Battle between King Cobra and Reticulated Python. Both dead when found #UFC223 pic.twitter.com/4wRZ47aWad— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) April 1, 2018
Poirier rightly feeling slighted. Four other top LWs competing this month and the UFC goes for the FW champ coming off of injury.
Ya feel me https://t.co/yGWRzKw7Xq— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) April 2, 2018
Who knows at this point.
Let me understand, Conor is a LW Champ, Tony is a interim champ, Tony is out... The winner between Khabib and Max will be a “Inter interim Champ” of UFC?— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) April 2, 2018
Valentina has the best logo in MMA.
jumping knee KO— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) April 1, 2018
Niclas Larsen KOs Noppakow Siriluck in 2R, advances to Kunlun 70-kilogram group D qualification tournament final pic.twitter.com/Fw2BYsi8DD
dramatic KO at Top FC— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) March 31, 2018
I hope that Dong will be ok pic.twitter.com/6M9Q9REUEQ
Zelim Imadaev KOs Ivan Gluhak in 1R (FNG) pic.twitter.com/7LsvdQ236h— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) March 30, 2018
Andrei Ciubotaru def. Murat Kazgan via TKO. That was a wild 2 minutes of fighting. #FNG85 pic.twitter.com/EuyBxxo9uv— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) March 30, 2018
referee, Seliverstov is out !— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) March 30, 2018
KO for (FNG) Aleksandr Dankov pic.twitter.com/V3YR4hxJVe
nice body punch KO— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) March 30, 2018
by Andronikos Evripidu (MX) pic.twitter.com/ENWycjQ7sC
Good morning— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) March 30, 2018
with flying knee from Daokrajai Nayok Ae Tasala
(MAX Muay Thai - The Battle) pic.twitter.com/OaC9HRKQwE
Adam Borics (6-0) vs. Teodor Nikolov (11-1); Bellator 196, April 6.
Cheick Kongo (27-10-2) vs. Javy Ayala (10-6); Bellator 199, May 12.
Mike Shipman (11-1) vs. Carl Noon (7-2); Bellator 200, May 25.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2004: Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz finally fought, with Liddell stopping Ortiz in the second round of the main event of UFC 47. This is also the event that saw Nick Diaz knockout Robbie Lawler.
2006: One of the best events in Pride history, Pride Bushido 10, took place featuring Marcus Aurelio choking out Takanori Gomi in a non-title bout.
2008: Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar met for the first time inside the cage with Maynard wrestling his way to a unanimous decision victory at UFC Fight Night 13.
2011: Eddie Alvarez successfully defended his Bellator lightweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Pat Curran at Bellator 39.
2018: Everyone lamented the fourth time we all lost out on Khabib vs. Tony.
It happened. I can’t believe it actually happened. Everyone joked about it for weeks and then damn if it didn’t actually happen. On April Fool’s Day no less! This sport is insane.
Oh, and Max is totally gonna win this and make everything infinitely more backwards than ever because that’s how MMA works.
Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.
Is Khabib vs. Tony proof that there are such a thing as curses?
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