Max Holloway to Fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 After Ferguson Injury

Max Holloway and Khabib Nurmagomedov
via UFC

A highly anticipated lightweight title fight between interim champion Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov will have to wait.

Ferguson has suffered an injury, forcing the headlining bout to be canceled just six days before it was supposed to headline UFC 223 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The interim champ has torn knee ligament, which he suffered in an accident on a studio set while fulfilling his prefight media obligations on Friday (March 30).

Luckily, the popular Khabib will still fight. Featherweight champion Max Holloway (19-3) has stepped in and agreed to replace Ferguson on short notice, facing off against Nurmagomedov (25-0) for the lightweight title.

Holloway-Nurmagomedov will now be the new headliner for UFC 223 on April 7.

While Conor McGregor (21-3) is the UFC’s official lightweight champion, he is expected to lose the title to the winner of Nurmagomedov-Holloway… due to being inactive for nearly two years within the promotion.

UFC president Dana White said the company did not offer McGregor the choice as replacement. He did, however, tell ESPN that Conor expressed interest last month in returning on short notice against Frankie Edgar at UFC 222. But, the UFC doesn’t want his return to be a last minute replacement.

“Conor is not the guy I want to throw in as a late replacement fighter,” he said. “He’s a guy I want to make a fight with and have the right amount of time to promote the fight.. I think Conor could return in September, and it could be against one of these guys.”

White also said Ferguson is expected to lose his interim title, which he won last October after defeating Kevin Lee at UFC 216.

The co-headliner for UFC 223 will be the anticipated rematch between Rose Namajunas and former champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk.