Due to a knee injury, Interim UFC Lightweight Champion Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson, 34, of California had to pull out of “UFC 223,” which will take place on April 7, 2018 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. He was replaced by UFC Featherweight Champion Max “Blessed” Holloway, 26, of Hawaii as the opponent of Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, 29, of Dagestan, Russia.
On April 1, 2018, Dana White took to Twitter to announce that Ferguson will no longer be Nurmagomedov’s opponent at “UFC 223.” He tweeted a short clip explaining that the announcement is not an April Fool’s Day prank.
This is not the first time a bout between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson was booked but cancelled due to an injury of either fighter. They were previously scheduled to fight on December 11, 2015, on April 16, 2016 and on March 4, 2017.
Whoever wins between Holloway and Nurmagomedov will become the official UFC Lightweight Champion. There are still no official statements about the titles of Ferguson and Conor “The Notorious” McGregor, 29, of Dublin, Ireland as the Interim UFC Lightweight Champion and the UFC Lightweight Champion, respectively.
Nurmagomedov is currently an undefeated fighter with 25 wins, 9 of which were earned in the UFC cage. In his most recent bout, he defeated Edson “Junior” Barboza Jr., 32, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil via unanimous decision at “UFC 219” on December 30, 2017.
When Nurmagomedov made his UFC debut on January 20, 2012 at “UFC on FX 1,” he submitted Kamal Shalorus via rear-naked choke. Aside from Barboza and Shalorus, the other UFC fighters defeated by the undefeated Dagestani fighter were Gleison Tibau, 34, of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, Thiago Tavares, 33, of Santa Catarina, Brazil, Abel “Killa” Trujillo, 34, of North Carolina, Pat “Bam Bam” Healy, 33, of Oregon, Rafael “RDA” dos Anjos, 33, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Darrell “The Saint” Horcher, 30, of Illinois and Michael “The Menace” Johnson, 31, of Missouri.
On the other hand, Holloway currently has 19 wins and 3 losses. He was an undefeated fighter with 4 wins.
If Holloway wins at “UFC 223,” he will become the first ever fighter to defeat Nurmagomedov and the second UFC fighter to hold two titles simultaneously. The first ever two-division champion of the UFC was McGregor, who held both lightweight and featherweight belts simultaneously at one point.
Holloway made his UFC debut on February 4, 2012 and was submitted via mounted triangle armbar by Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier, 29, of Louisiana at “UFC 143. The other two opponents Holloway failed to defeat in the UFC cage were Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez, 31, of New York and McGregor.
Meanwhile, here is a clip from the bout between Nurmagomedov and Tavares: