Max Holloway in for Tony Ferguson.
On Monday April first, UFC President Dana White announced that injury forced Interim UFC Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson out of his UFC 223 headlining bout this Saturday – and that UFC Featherweight champion Max Holloway would step up to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed Lightweight belt.
Naturally, the MMA community called the announcement an April fools…..but it wasn’t.
This is one of the boldest power plays in UFC history. Tony and Khabib have been scheduled to fight four times. And four times the fight has fallen through. This time, apparently as the result of a freak accident on a TV set. Tony Ferguson made an Instagram post in explanation and apology.
So many things about this development are completely insane. None more so than the selection of Holloway to replace Tony and fight for a second belt. Of course, the natural choice would be Lightewight champion McGregor. According to Khabib, the UFC called him, and he was not ready. Interesting for a man who posted “Stay Ready” over his social media accounts last week as if to imply he was prepared to step in. Instead Conor posted a tweet reading:
These fools pull out more times than I do with my dick.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 2, 2018
Lightweight contender Nate Diaz also chimed in.
Lol these guys can’t even make it to war..
— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) April 2, 2018
It almost tests the imagination as a coincidence, but recently, Holloway has been teasing a move up to 155 and specifically mentioning Khabib as someone he would like to fight. Although Holloway usually fights at 145, making 155 in under a week will still be an extreme challenge. Luckily he has MMA’s top nutrition team Lockhart and Leith helping him. The other factor his Holloway’s injury. He recently pulled out of a fight with Frankie Edgar due to an ankle injury. Apparently it has healed faster than projected.
If Holloway wins, he will be only the second man in history to hold two belts simultaneously – the Featherweight and Lightweight belts. The other man is Conor McGregor he has held both belts, but was stripped of the Featherweight and will be stripped of the Lightweight when UFC 223 begins. If Holloway wins, it is likely he will attempt what McGregor never did, which is defending both belts. His first Lightweight defense will almost certainly be against McGregor in the biggest fight in UFC history. The two have fought before at Featherweight. It resulted in a 3-round decision for McGregor, when Holloway was 21 years old.
The first embedded episode for UFC 223 is up HERE.