This is not an April Fool’s joke. Tony Ferguson suffered a freak accident and will not be able to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title at UFC 223. Featherweight champion Max Holloway has stepped in to fight the undefeated Russian.
Brett Okamoto of ESPN first reported the UFC 223 main event change, which was due to a freak accident. Interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson tripped and fell and ended up tearing a ligament in his knee. Again, this is not a joke. Here’s a video of UFC President Dana White announcing the switch as well.
This fight has been scheduled four times, and four times it has fallen through. Twice due to Khabib Nurmagomedov, and twice due to Tony Ferguson. The two undisputed top lightweight contenders in the UFC have been unable to cross paths, much to the dismay of MMA fans. As a result of this, Ferguson has been stripped of his interim lightweight title, and Dana White also said he will not try to book the fight a fifth time.
Max Holloway shared on his last MMA Hour appearance, March 19, that he was still dealing with the ankle injury that kept him out of UFC 222. Apparently, that is good enough to go though, and he will step into the cage opposite Khabib on Saturday. Holloway is currently the featherweight champion, and has one defense under his belt over Jose Aldo.
Khabib Nurmagomedov commented on Ferguson’s injury on Instagram, saying, “Tony heal up man. Just want to advise you, don’t talk too much anymore.” The Dagestan native is an incredible 25-0 in his career and is coming off a destructive performance over fearsome striker Edson Barboza.
UFC 223 will take place in the Barclays Center of Brooklyn, New York, this Saturday, April 7. The main event is mentioned above, while Joanna Jedrzejczyk will attempt to reclaim the strawweight title against Rose Namajunas in the co-main event. The card also features Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis and a barn-burner between Al Iaquinta and Paul Felder.