UFC 223 is Saved! Al Iaquinta Replaces Max Holloway as Khabib Nurmagamedov’s Opponent…
Negotiations have been long and hard, but it looks like we’ve finally got there. Khabib Nurmagamedov will now fight Al Iaquinta for the UFC lightweight title on Saturday night in the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. The worst case scenario has been avoided and fans will get to see the Russian in action.
A nightmare situation emerged for the UFC after Max Holloway was not allowed to complete his weight cut by the New York State Athletic Commission. The UFC searched desperately for an opponent to fight Khabib. Numerous fighters were considered including former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and Paul Dargan.
However, local boy Iaquinta was the man the UFC settled on. However, terms have been set. Only Nurmagamedov can fight for the title. if Iaquinta wins he will not be able to bring the belt home because he weighed in at 155.2. However, the chance to save the event and beat the scariest man in MMA is too good an opportunity to turn down.
Week From Hell
It’s been one of the worst weeks in the history of the UFC. First, Tony Ferguson was forced to pull out against Khabib – the fourth time this fight had been canceled. All seemed well until yesterday when Conor McGregor went on a rampage with a 20-strong crew. This had massive repercussions for the card.
Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg were forced off after suffering injuries related to broken glass, that occurred when McGregor threw a dolly at the window of their bus. Their opponents Brandon Riviera and Anthony Pettis are also obviously affected. Meanwhile, Artem Lobov’s fight against Alex Caceres has also been scrapped, because of the Russian’s involvement.
The weigh-ins were one of the most dramatic ever. All fighters weighed in with Khabib bang on 155, despite parting ways with his nutritionist this week. With no sign of Holloway, doubt started to creep in. Finally, it was formally announced that the Hawaiian would not be able to fight.
Anthony Pettis was the UFC’s preferred choice as a stand-in guy for their stand-in guy. ‘Showtime’ is the former lightweight champion, and his striking style is very fan friendly. However, the NYSAC would not allow him to fight in a five-round main event.
No such problems with Iaquinta. The negotiations were long, with reporters waiting hours for information. It has been officially confirmed that Iaquinta will fight Nurmagamedov in a five-round fight, with only the Russian eligible to win the title.
This still isn’t over. There is absolutely no point pretending that the UFC does not want Khabib to win this one. They’ll be desperate for him to become the official lightweight champion. As it stands Conor McGregor is still technically in possession in the belt. If Khabib does the unthinkable and loses… well things could get very interesting.
The remainder of the fighters on the card made weight. The co-main event has been tragically overlooked. Rose Namajunas defends her strawweight title against Joanna Jederzejczyk in a rematch and reversal of their first fight. It should be a good one folks.