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The things you think upon hearing Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov is canceled ... again

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

1. F**k.

2. F**k, f**k, f**kity f**k.

3. Wait, it’s April Fool’s Day! This is a joke! How did I fall for this? I’m so stupid. I hate April Fool’s Day, and I’m logging off Twitter!

4. But it is Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Could it possibly be true again? They’ll still be competing at UFC 223, right? I better open up Twitter again.

5. Wait, Ariel Helwani is reporting it. Oh, no. Oh, please no.

6. F**k.

7. Again? Really? Again? How does this happen four times?! Ferguson and Nurmagomedov must have voodoo dolls of each other that their dogs use as chew toys during fight camps.

8. Nurmagomedov has withdrawn twice, and Ferguson has withdrawn twice. Does this mean we need a rubber match?

9. Wait, Max Holloway is stepping in? That’s … that’s pretty interesting.

10. Holloway vs. Nurmagomedov is for the lightweight belt? Even though as recently as one minute before the UFC’s announcement of Ferguson’s injury, Ferguson was the interim champion and Conor McGregor was the lineal champion, and neither of the two is involved? I mean, this stuff doesn’t have to make sense anymore, does it?

11. Oh, wait, Ferguson is being stripped of the interim belt (per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto) for his transgression of being injured? Granted, the whole concept of “interim” championships is nonsense, but why is Ferguson insta-stripped of the interim belt while McGregor has gone 500+ days without a single defense and has yet to formally be stripped?

12. Yes, that last question was rhetorical.

13. Disappointment aside, how remarkably courageous is Holloway? This guy had to withdraw from his own (featherweight) title fight less than two months ago with an ankle injury, and here he is moving up in weight to take on one of the most feared lightweights in the world on six days’ notice! That’s amazing.

14. I hope Holloway is getting PAID for saving this card. I’m sure you’ll hear a fair share of “he has nothing to lose” takes on Holloway filling in, but that’s simply untrue. He has won 12 fights in a row and has been dominant during that time. Now, his win streak is on the line against an opponent whose style is unlike anything Holloway has recently fought, and he has almost no prep time, and he is going to have to try to stop unrelenting wrestling shots on a recently repaired wheel. Plenty can go wrong there. Sure he’ll walk away as the featherweight champion no matter what, but to say he has nothing to lose completely ignores the financial and legacy angles.

15. Speaking of which ... how much more attractive does a Holloway vs. McGregor rematch become if Holloway finds a way to beat Nurmagomedov? The first “champ-champ” against the second? All the belts, real and imaginary, on the line? That is historic stuff, and the only way Holloway gets to that, the only way he pushes his name into the McGregor sweepstakes is being beating Nurmagomedov on SIX DAYS’ NOTICE! If he loses, that monster payday goes with it. A motherlode of cash and the chance to potentially vault into superstardom? That is a lot to lose.

16. What happens to McGregor if Nurmagomedov wins? Does McGregor-Nurmagomedov become the Irishman’s only option? Holloway coming off a loss doesn’t sound like a McGregor fight, and it would be unseemly to avoid Nurmagomedov and fight Ferguson. It seems like McGregor-Nurmagomedov and McGregor vs. Nate Diaz III are the only options to escape from a Nurmagomedov UFC 223 win, and Diaz seemed like the rubber match he could keep in his back pocket as long as necessary. He may decide to go to it sooner than he’d like.

17. Remember that cool video of Brian Ortega taking a phone call from Dana White in which he learned “You’re getting that title shot”? That really wasn’t a guarantee, was it? If Holloway loses, no harm done. But if Holloway wins, then what? If Ferguson’s interim title can be cast aside with such swiftness, T-City can’t exactly feel safe that his No. 1 contender slot is written in stone.

18. There are people who really don’t understand why McGregor didn’t step into the fight against Nurmagomedov? While it’s not the fans’ responsibility to understand the business of the sport, it would be hard to miss the fact that McGregor fights have become events. Accordingly, the UFC has to have a certain amount of lead-time to maximize their profit potential in a McGregor bout. For one, they set different ticket prices to a McGregor show. That’s money they wouldn’t have seen in Brooklyn. For another, they want to get McGregor on as many media programs as possible to maximize the potential audience size. It’s reasonable for a fan to request that fight, but unreasonable to expect it.

19. That said, how many fighters who espouse an “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” motto toss it aside when they become champions? Once they have a title—and in most cases, pay-per-view points—to protect, it’s understandable that attitudes change. Holloway’s never done that, a stance both equally brazen and admirable.

20. Ferguson was injured tripping while doing the media rounds. That sounds like literally the most routine, safest thing he could have been doing at that moment aside from transcendental meditation. Which all of us could use right now because I still can hardly believe this. April Fool’s Day and the joke is on us.

21. F**k.