The magical glass cage of emotions went full tilt on Easter Sunday.
News broke late in the afternoon that interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson was forced to withdraw from the UFC 223 main event on Saturday against Khabib Nurmagomedov due to injury.
Instead, featherweight champion Max Holloway will step into the octagon on six days (yes, six days) notice and face the unbeaten Nurmagomedov to determine a new undisputed lightweight champion.
Not a bad Plan B despite the disappointment aimed towards Plan A.
Ferguson issued a statement on Instagram, saying “Words can’t explain how hurt, frustrated, angry and in disbelief I am right now,” Ferguson wrote. “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.
“I want to apologize to all the fans, the UFC, Khabib, my teammates, my coaches, my friends and most importantly my family. Happy Easter 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 blessings to you all.”
UFC president Dana White has confirmed that Ferguson would be stripped of his interim lightweight title to make room for a new undisputed champion to be crowned in the fight between Nurmagomedov and Holloway.
There was no shortage of hype and trash talk going into the original main event involving Ferguson and Nurmagomedov, which makes the fact that the bout isn’t happening now even more disappointing.
Nurmagomedov also took to Instagram to address the issue, saying “Tony heal up man. Just want to advise you, don’t talk too much anymore. Lot of thoughts in my head right now, but I don’t want to become like you. Hope, this lesson will teach you watch your mouth.”
It’s a shame these two may never square off.
This is the fourth time the fight between the two has been scrapped. Nurmagomedov had to withdraw due to injury before The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale in 2015. They were going to give it a go at UFC on FOX 19 in 2016 but then Ferguson had to withdraw due to lung issues. The two were later scheduled to be the co-main event of UFC 209 in March of last year but Nurmagomedov was forced out the day of weigh-ins due to issues with his weight cut.
It’s easy to see how this fight may never happen.
UFC 223 will take place on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York with another high-profile fight on the main card. The rematch between strawweight champion Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jędrzejczyk will serve as the co-main event. Namajunas beat Jedrzejczyk for the title via a first round knockout at UFC 217 last November.