It’s been a chaotic week for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). If you haven’t been paying attention over the past seven days, you may be wondering what the hell happened to UFC 223’s line up when you weren’t looking. Let’s get you filled in on what exactly happened to take us from 13 fights down to nine with multiple changes to the pay-per-view (PPV) main event.
Things started going sideways on April 1st when it was revealed that interim lightweight champ Tony Ferguson was out of his highly anticipated fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. The cause? A freak accident where Ferguson stepped off a studio stage and tore his knee’s lateral collateral ligament right off the bone.
As bad as that was, UFC stepped up and replaced Ferguson with Featherweight champ Max Holloway. Even though Holloway would be moving up to 155 pounds, there were concerns as to whether he could make weight on six days notice. But, according to Max and his team, he was on the way to making weight without a problem when the NYSAC ruled him medically unfit to fight on Friday morning.
That led to a crazy scramble behind the scenes, with UFC offering the main event slot against Khabib to UFC 223 lightweights Anthony Pettis, Paul Felder, and finally Al Iaquinta. Reports say Pettis asked for too much money to step in, while Paul Felder was refused as an opponent by the NYSAC because he was an unranked fighter. UFC even had issues getting No.-11 ranked Iaquinta accepted as an opponent because he had weighed in at 155.2 pounds, disqualifying him from fighting for the title.
In the end, only Nurmagomedov is eligible to win the 155-pound belt as far as NYSAC is concerned. But, UFC president Dana White announced soon after that the promotion would make Iaquinta the champion should he emerge victorious on Saturday night.
Then there was the incident involving Conor McGregor on Thursday afternoon where the UFC superstar and his entourage smashed up a bus shuttling fighters between the venue and their hotel. McGregor was attempting to avenge an incident where Nurmagomedov’s team cornered his training partner, Artem Lobov, and allegedly slapped him. McGregor’s retaliatory attack on a fighter-filled bus left several fighters covered in glass and two men unable to compete.
- Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis was canceled afterMcGregor threw a metal dolly through a bus window, cutting Chiesa’s forehead.
- Ray Borg vs. Brandon Moreno was canceled after Borg got shards of glass in his eye during the incident.
- Artem Lobov vs. Alex Caceres was cancelled because Lobov participated in the bus attack alongside McGregor.
And then of course there’s Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder, which was canceled because Iaquinta is now facing Khabib in the main event. Attempts were made to get Felder and Pettis to fight, but they refused because they train together under coach Duke Roufus.
You’re now caught up on everything involving UFC 223! Here’s the nine-fight lineup as it stands.
UFC 223 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
155 LBS.: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta
115 lbs.: UFC Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
145 lbs.: Calvin Kattar vs. Renato Moicano
145 lbs.: Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Kyle Bochniak
155 lbs.: Joe Lauzon vs. Chris Gruetzemacher
UFC 223 Prelims On FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
125 lbs.: Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Bec Rawlings
115 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Evan Dunham
205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Michael Rodriguez
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 223 fight card this evening, starting with the FOX Sports 1-televised “Prelims” undercard matches at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.