UFC 223 Main Event Now Features Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta, Only One Fighter Eligible for Title

UFC lightweight Al Iaquinta
Al Iaquinta Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

At what might as well be considered the 11th hour at this point, the cursed UFC 223 card has a main event.

It took some time to get it done, but after a few false starts, UFC 223 once again has a main event. The card had previously lost Khabib Nurmagomedov’s original opponent Tony Ferguson, the UFC interim lightweight champion until recently. Then, replacement Max Holloway, the UFC featherweight champ, was deemed unfit to fight. After attempting to secure a deal with Anthony Pettis, then turning to Paul Felder (who was not allowed to take the fight by the New York State Athletic Commission, due to not being ranked), the promotion turned to Al Iaquinta.

Just when you thought this would be a feel good story with the New York lightweight, who was previously on the outs with the promotion, getting to fight for gold, another snag: Iaquinta had weighed in at 155.2lbs early Friday, perfectly legal for his bout with Paul Felder. However, title fights do not get a one-pound allowance. As a result, Iaquinta will not win the lightweight championship with a victory. Nurmagomedov, however, will.

The UFC officially announced the news Friday afternoon. And though that would seem to leave Paul Felder and Anthony Pettis as a suitable pairing at lightweight, the two happen to train together. As a result, it appears UFC 223 will move forward with nine fights.

UFC 223 takes place Saturday, April 7 at the Barclays Center.


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