It’s a rather strange day for the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) as fans accept the fact that Tony Ferguson will no longer face Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of Saturday’s (Sat., April 7, 2018) UFC 223 from Brooklyn, New York.
In his place stepped featherweight champion Max Holloway to battle the bulldozing Dagestani force.
It’s the biggest fight of “Blessed’s” currently surging MMA career, one where he has the opportunity to become only the fifth two-weight champ in UFC history, so not surprisingly, he revealed it was a bout he simply couldn’t turn down.
Speaking to Hawaiian news outlet KHON News (via MMA Fighting) as he got prepared to board his flight to New York, “Blessed” said there was no other route to take when he was offered the once-in-a-lifetime fight at the last minute:
“April Fools! Nah, I’m just joking.
“My manager called me. He said, ‘Tony’s hurt’ and ‘they want you and Khabib’. I was like…how do you turn down an opportunity like this? Opportunities like this come once in a lifetime and there was really only one guy was able to do it. I’m glad to be the second guy and I’m going to go out there and make history.”
— Rob DeMello (@RobDeMelloKHON) April 2, 2018
But while the rising star is moving up to lightweight this weekend, he admitted he still has business to handle at 145 pounds – namely a potential blockbuster of a title fight with No. 1 contender Brian Ortega.
For now, however, his focus is justifiably on April 7 in Brooklyn:
“I’m here to fight man. I’m not a matchmaker. I’ve got business to handle at 145. But I said, when the UFC call, I’m only one call away. They called the right guy. I’m here, six days’ notice — April 7 is going to be a great night,” he said.
Finally, the titleholder gave a quick assessment of the undefeated Nurmagomedov’s peerless skills, but stopped short of giving too much praise by insisting he didn’t know why people were scared of ‘The Eagle’ before calling himself the best:
“Animal. You know what they say, ‘to beat the best you’ve got to be the best’, and the best is Blessed, baby. I can’t wait. This guy’s one of the most feared guys, I don’t know why. We’re all fighters, we all train. He’s human, I’m human and we get to go out there and see who is better.”