One of the craziest weeks in UFC history took another wild turn on Friday morning when Max Holloway was declared medically unfit for Saturday’s UFC 223 lightweight championship bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times reported that Anthony Pettis would replace Holloway in the main event, but MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani tweeted that Nurmagomedov’s participation was “not 100%” and Pettis would still need to make weight on Friday morning.
But finally, after a couple of hours of scrambling, the UFC finally settled on Al Iaquinta, a New York native who had been scheduled to fight on the undercard, to replace Holloway.
The news completely upset what looked like one of the strongest UFC cards this year as recently as a few days ago. But then Conor McGregor and his posse showed up at Thursday’s media day at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and started a melee that ended with McGregor turning himself into police and the dissolution of three fights from the card.
UFC president Dana White had announced at the press conference that McGregor would no longer be lightweight champion and that the title would be up for grabs in the fight between featherweight champion Holloway and Nurmagomedov.
Pettis was originally slated to fight Michael Chiesa, but that fight was canceled after Chiesa suffered cuts to his face and head after being on board the bus that McGregor attacked.
Holloway, who was originally tabbed to replace the injured Tony Ferguson and had to cut 26 pounds in the matter of days, apologized to Nurmagomedov on Twitter after being removed from the fight.
. @TeamKhabib my brother I want to keep going but they are stopping me. Sorry to your team and the fans. You don’t deserve this. This is number one. Shout outs to you and @Showtimepettis . Give the fans what they deserve
— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) April 6, 2018
Saturday’s card still features the women’s strawweight title fight, an eagerly anticipated rematch between champion Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
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