In what’s been an unforgettable week for the UFC -- for all the wrong reasons -- there is still a fight card happening Saturday night in Brooklyn, even though it looks a lot different than it did 24 hours ago.
Not only did the UFC 223 lose three fights yesterday due to the well-documented Conor McGregor outburst at the Barclays Center which injured two fighters and disqualified one from competing, it was announced today that Waianae native and UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway was medically unfit to compete by the New York State Athletic Commission.
BREAKING: Max Holloway has been declared medically unfit to fight. Holloway is out of UFC 223. Per Dana White.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) April 6, 2018
The removal of Holloway comes as a surprise to many, especially since Holloway said on Twitter that he was willing to keep pushing his weight cut until he hit the 155-pound weight limit. However, the commission didn’t think that it would be safe for Holloway to continue the weight cut and then go on to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in tomorrow night’s main event.
This from a member of Holloway’s team:— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 6, 2018
“Max wants to keep pushing and is close but the doctors came up and just stopped it. Doctors stopped it not us. Max was going.”
The removal of Holloway, as expected, did not sit well with the MMA community and his fellow UFC fighters.
Worse week in combat sports history? Canelo/GGG cancelled, Tony Ferguson injury, Conor in jail, and now this. https://t.co/wcGsM1Ftg4— Brendan Schaub (@BrendanSchaub) April 6, 2018
Because Holloway was pulled from the card, Nurmagomedov needed a new opponent. Names such as Anthony Pettis and Paul Felder were thrown around until the UFC brass decided to promote lightweight Al Iaquinta to the main event slot.
Some fighters were pleased with the decision while others were not - especially the aforementioned Felder who actually made the 155-pound limit, only to be told he couldn’t fight Nurmagomedov because he wasn’t ranked.
For those familiar with the UFC ranking system, the idea that Felder, a winner of his last three-straight fights all by way of KO or TKO, wasn’t qualified to fight Nurmagomedov because he wasn’t listed in the UFC’s Top 15 rankings is preposterous, and he wasn’t the only who thought so.
This is crazy. Have these commissioners even seen Felder compete? So an arbitrary rankings system is now being employed by an athletic commission as a reason to not allow a fight. Should be UFC's call! Nuts. https://t.co/aDdnOMojVz— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) April 6, 2018
When it was reported that Felder was out of the conversation, some fighters tried to throw their names into the hat, including UFC Hall-of-Famer and Hawaii native BJ Penn.
They should’ve called me to start with. I been wanting @TeamKhabib for yearsss. I’ll focus on April 21st I got work to put in— Kevin MTP Lee (@MoTownPhenom) April 6, 2018
It’s been a whirlwind week for the UFC and its fans and it’s a letdown to not have Holloway on the card due to reasons out his control.
But at the end of the day, it is what it is.
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