UFC 223 Main Event: Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov Will Be For Undisputed Title, Maybe

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Khabib Nurmagomdedov added to UFC 219 against Edson Barboza UFC 228
Credit: Mike Sloan/Sherdog.com

A puzzling presser leaves UFC fans in the dark about the status of lightweight champion Conor McGregor.

At the UFC 25th Anniversary press conference in Boston, MA today, the message was far from clear. UFC President Dana White announced the main event of UFC 223: interim lightweight champ Tony Ferguson vs. the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov. It will be for a title, that much is for sure. And then the message got muddled.

“I have no update. The winner of this fight will be the champion” White said when asked about what title would be on the line. When a follow-up question pondered whether Conor McGregor was being stripped of the lightweight title, White only replied “we’ll see what happens.” Things quickly went downhill from there. Fans were restless. Interim Champ Tony Ferguson was heckled and booed by a clearly pro-McGregor crowd. It was Boston, after all, a city McGregor is hugely popular in, based on past appearances.

When MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani attempted to follow up, he was quickly shot down. Asking if there was any reason Dana White was avoiding saying that Conor McGregor has been stripped of the title led White to reply “Did I say he’s been stripped of the title?” When Helwani answered “No” White replied with “next question please.”

The lack of a clear answer begs the question of why the UFC bothered with the press conference at all. Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar had already been announced for UFC 222, and Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov was a near certainty for UFC 223. The only real news was White making the rematch between Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk official as UFC 223’s co-main event.

UFC 223 takes place April 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

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