Al “Ragin’ Al” Iaquinta, 30, of New York, United States will be the official opponent of Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, 29, of Dagestan, Russia at “UFC 223” in the lightweight division. Their bout is scheduled on April 7, 2018 at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York.
The first fighters scheduled to be Nurmagomedov’s “UFC 223” opponent was reigning Interim UFC Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson but the latter pulled out due to knee injury. Reigning UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway was tapped as the replacement but he was deemed medically unfit to fight by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) due to concerns related to his weigh cut.
When Holloway was declared out, former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis was asked to step on the scale. He weighed in at 155.2 pounds while the lightweight limit is 155 pounds.
Pettis was given 2 hours to lose 0.2 pounds but the scale was soon removed so he was not allowed to make a second attempt to weigh in. Paul Felder was then tapped to replace Pettis but the NYSAC reportedly did not allow the former to compete against Nurmagomedov because he is not in the Top 15 lightweight contenders of the UFC.
Finally, Iaquinta replaced Felder as Nurmagomedov’s opponent at “UFC 223.” Like Pettis, Iaquinta weighed in at 155.2 pounds but the UFC approved of it.
However, only Nurmagomedov is fighting for the UFC Lightweight Championship. If he wins, he gets the belt that originally belonged to Conor McGregor.
But if Iaquinta wins, he will simply add 1 win in his professional mixed martial arts record. He currently has 13 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw while Nurmagomedov has 25 wins and 0 loss.
Pettis was originally set to fight Michael Chiesa at “UFC 223” but the latter had to pull out after being injured during the controversial attack of McGregor and his crew at Barclays Center. Iaquinta was originally set to fight Felder.
From 13 bouts, the “UFC 223” fight card now has nine bouts only. With Iaquinta and Nurmagomedov in the main event, reigning UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas will co-headline with Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Here is a video featuring Nurmagomedov: