No April Fools Here: Tony Ferguson Out of UFC 223

Max Holloway Will Fight Khabib Nurmagomedov For Lightweight Title

What MMA fans were hoping was just a sick April Fools joke, is unfortunately very real.  For the fourth, yes fourth, time, a fight between Tony Ferguson and Khabibi Nurmagomedov will not happen after Ferguson (23-3) was forced to pull out of the fight due to a torn LCL from a bizarre tripping accident.  They were supposed to be the main event at UFC 223 Saturday night.  Ferguson commented about having to pull out of the fight on Twitter.

Featherweight champion Max Holloway will replace Ferguson and fight Nurmagomedov (25-0) for the lightweight title.  UFC President Dana White made the announcement on his twitter Sunday evening.

Saturday night was supposed to be the long awaited fight between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov, with the fight being scheduled three previous times.  Nurmagomedov was forced to pull out back in 2015 due to a rib injury.  The fight was rescheduled to be the main event for a Fox card in Tampa, but Ferguson pulled out of the fight less than two weeks before it was set to take place due to a lung issue.

The bout was rescheduled for a third time at UFC 209 for the interim lightweight championship, but the week of the fight, Nurmagomedov pulled out due to a poor weight cut.

Photo: John Locher/AP Photo

Now Ferguson is pulling out six days before the fight is scheduled to take place.

Holloway (19-3) will look to become just the second fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously.  Conor McGregor was the first and only champion to ever do so.

Photo: Julio Cortez/AP Photo

Holloway would also become the fifth fighter in UFC history to win a belt in two different weight classes (Couture, Penn, McGregor, St-Pierre).  Holloway was expect to defend his belt against Brian Ortega (14-0-1) in the near future.

Photo: John Locher/AP Photo

McGregor (21-3) will be stripped of the current lightweight title he holds and the official champion will be crowned Saturday night.  McGregor hasn’t fought in the octagon since winning the lightweight belt at UFC 205 in November 2016.

White spoke to ESPN Sunday night and said McGregor wasn’t considered to fill in for Ferguson.

“I don’t think Conor McGregor could make the weight on six days notice,” White said.  “That’s a tough weight cut for him.  And Conor is not the guy I want to throw in as a late replacement fighter.  He’s a guy I want to make a fight with and have the right amount of time to promote the fight.  I think Conor could return in September and it could be against one of these (Holloway or Nurmagomedov) guys.”