It’s no April Fools Day joke. In the blink of an eye, UFC 223: Ferguson vs. Khabib became UFC 223: Khabib vs. Holloway.
- “It happened! It happened!”
– Jim Lampley, HBO Boxing (George Foreman KOs Michael Moorer to reclaim heavyweight title at 45)
The above quote represents my reaction to the news that Tony Ferguson had suffered an injury and has been pulled from his UFC Lightweight Championship bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at this Saturday’s UFC 223: Khabib vs. Nurmagomedov pay-per-view.
For those still in the dark, Ferguson, the reigning interim UFC Lightweight Champion, suffered a complete tear of his LCL while in a television studio doing an interview. It was a freak accident, but one that forced UFC to pull him from Saturday’s main event.
Imagine that? The guy kicks steel posts in training, drags a giant tire around during his UFC 223 media call, and still ends up injured by tripping in a television studio. What are the odds?!
With Ferguson being yanked from his fight with Khabib, this marks the fourth time that UFC has attempted to book and promote this showdown, only to see it fall apart at the last minute.
As a result of this situation, UFC pulled a rabbit out of the hat, booking reigning UFC Featherweight Champion Max “Blessed” Holloway against Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov in a bout for the UFC Lightweight Championship. If Holloway wins, he will join Conor McGregor as the second man in UFC history to hold two belts in two UFC weight classes at the same time.
So, is UFC 223 cursed or blessed? Well, you could lean either way.
The peripheral damage that this causes is simply unimaginable. Let’s take a closer look.
With Holloway moving up to challenge Nurmagomedov for the UFC Lightweight Championship, it obviously delays the expected showdown between himself and Brian “T-City” Ortega, which fans have been clamoring for ever since Ortega knocked out Frankie Edgar, the first man to ever stop the former UFC Lightweight Champion in history.
So we can scratch that. For now.
How about the fact that Tony Ferguson is the interim UFC Lightweight Champion right now? If Nurmagomedov wins, which he will clearly be favored to do with a lighter man coming up on short notice, he will become the undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion according to UFC President Dana White. So, does that mean the interim champion, Ferguson, when healthy, moves in to unify his title with Nurmagomedov’s?
Well, no. White outright stated that after falling apart four times now, the UFC will never attempt to book Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov again.
Tony Ferguson as a 155-pound champion in the UFC? We can scratch that. For now.
This does bode well for one man, however — “The Notorious” Conor McGregor.
Coincidentally enough, McGregor has been going back-and-forth with Holloway on social media for weeks now, and if Max “Blessed” wins, as noted, he will join McGregor as the only simultaneous two-weight division champion in UFC history. Plus, if he claims the UFC Lightweight Championship, he will effectively have become the man who replaced McGregor as champion in the same two divisions that the Irish mega-star held belts.
It’s just complete insanity.
So, again I must ask, is UFC 223 cursed or blessed? We’ll find out this Saturday when the Octagon touches down at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for UFC 223: Khabib vs. Holloway live on pay-per-view. Make sure to join us here at MMANews.com and on Twitter @mmanews_com for live round-by-round results coverage of the entire pay-per-view this Saturday night.
What do you think of the madness surrounding UFC 223? Sound off in the Comments section below. Let us know, is UFC 223 cursed or blessed?