UFC 223 at Barclays Center received a major shake-up less than a week before fight night.
Assuring fans this wasn’t an April Fools’ Day prank, UFC president Dana White confirmed reports that interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson is out of Saturday’s lightweight championship bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov due to a knee injury.
The lightweight title, however, still will be up for grabs as featherweight champion Max Holloway will step in to face Nurmagomedov.
“Unfortunately this is not an April Fools’, Tony is out, he hurt his knee,” White said in a video released on Twitter. “But the beautiful thing about this sport, the stud 145-pound champion Max Holloway is going to step up and face Khabib this Saturday in Brooklyn, New York, and it is for the official 155-pound title.”
This is just the latest time a fight between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov has been scrapped due to injury. The pair was scheduled to meet in December 2015, again in April 2016 and once more last March. Each time, the fight didn’t materialize, first due to a Nurmagomedov injury, then a Ferguson lung issue. Most recently at UFC 209, Nurmagomedov pulled from the bout following a failed weight-cut ahead of their planned interim title fight.
Holloway will fight at lightweight for the first time in his UFC career on Saturday. The current featherweight champion has a 12-fight win streak dating to 2014, most recently defending his title in a rematch with longtime champ Jose Aldo last December.