With UFC 223 just six days away, lightweight interim champion, Tony Ferguson, has stepped down from the fight. On April 7, Khabib Nurmagomedov will step into the octagon with current featherweight champion Max Holloway for the 155-pound title.
UFC president Dana White broke the news to ESPN on Sunday that 23-2 Tony Ferguson has official withdrawn from the match after suffering a torn ligament in his knee. Ferguson then took to twitter shortly after, apologizing to his fans and expressing his frustration.
“Words can’t explain how hurt, frustrated, angry, and in disbelief I am right now. As I was completing my UFC pre-fight media obligations on Friday I had an accident on a studio set that tore a ligament in my knee. My doctor and the UFC doctor both said I can’t fight and one is saying I need surgery, so I will see a specialist to make the final determination on how I can heal up and get back in there to defend my belt ASAP. I want to apologize to all the fans, the UFC, Khabib, my teammates, my coaches, my friends and most importantly my family. Happy Easter and to everyone out there, I believe there is a silver lining in this nightmare of a reality because this isn’t an April fools. Good health and blessing to you all.”
Despite McGregor’s recently expressed interest in returning to the octagon, White told ESPN that McGregor was never contacted as a possible replacement for Ferguson primarily due to the short notice.
“I don’t think Conor McGregor could make the weight on six days’ notice. That’s a tough weight cut for him,” White said. “And Conor is not the guy I want to throw in as a late replacement fighter. He’s a guy I want to make a fight with and have the right amount of time to promote the fight.”
As disappointing as the Ferguson injury is for the UFC, forcing the highly anticipated fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson to be cancelled, Holloway will have an opportunity on April 7 make history by joining a category that McGregor sits in all alone — holding two UFC belts simultaneously.