The New York State Athletic Commission may not consider Al Iaquinta a champion if he beats Khabib Nurmagomedov tonight but the UFC will.
At the UFC 223 press conference Friday night, White told media a championship belt is on the line for both fighters despite what the NYSAC has ruled.
“The title is on the line. As far as the commission goes, Khabib is the one who is eligible for the title. But obviously, if ‘Ragin’ Al wins this fight, he’s the champ. If you beat the man, you are the man,” White told media.
Al Iaquinta Fighting for a UFC Title Tonight?
The technicalities of declaring a fighter champion despite a governing body not approving could prove interesting. If Iaquinta pulls off an upset over Khabib, will Dana go as far as to wrap the belt around his waist? How would the NYSAC react to that?
White explained such technicalities would have to be dealt with.
“Per the New York State Athletic Commission, this is not a title fight for him. It’s an actual regulation that a guy who doesn’t make exactly on weight cannot be the champion. So we’ll see. Obviously, if he wins this fight, we’ll figure that out.”
Iaquinta weighed in at 155.2 but is required to be 155lbs for a title fight. At the time he was weighing in, Iaquinta was scheduled to face Paul Felder and was not required to hit 155lbs on the nose as it wasn’t for a title.
“We as the fans and as the people know who the champ is if you win the fight. If you win the fight, you’re the champ,” White said. “To be the man, you beat the man, and if you beat the man, it’s hard to deny that he’s not the champion. All technicalities we will figure out after the fight.”
At the moment, Iaquinta is a +500 underdog (via Bet365) so there is a good chance we’ll never know if White plans to wrap a title around his waist if he wins. Surprises happen in MMA, however. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta is taking place 11 years to the day that Matt Serra shocked George St. Pierre at UFC 69.