MMA fans were confronted with what appeared to be an April Fool’s Day joke after news broke of Tony Ferguson’s withdrawal from UFC 223’s main event against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
But unfortunately, it was not a joke, and the lightweight title fight fans have been clamoring for and promised three times in the past fell through for the fourth time on Sunday due to an apparent knee injury Ferguson sustained just six days from fight night.
As a kind of consolation, the UFC whipped up an impromptu fight between featherweight champion Max Holloway and Nurmagomedov, who will compete for the lightweight belt in Ferguson’s absence.
Holloway, despite having recently defended his 145-pound title in December, posted a cryptic response to the news on Twitter immediately following the news of Ferguson’s injury:
— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) April 1, 2018
Holloway seems to be alluding to a war of attrition against the undefeated Dagestani as the two prepare for battle in Brooklyn on Saturday night.
UFC President Dana White confirmed Ferguson’s injury and Holloway’s replacement to quell the confusion regarding the unfortunate timing of this debacle, having fallen on April Fool’s Day.
How will Holloway fare against Nurmagomedov? Will the short-notice replacement help or hurt his chances at becoming a simultaneous two-time UFC champion?