Monday 20 May 2019

Dana White explains why Conor McGregor won't replace Tony Ferguson at UFC 223

Conor McGregor. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor McGregor. Photo: Sportsfile

James Edwards

Tony Ferguson has pulled out of the main event of UFC 223 this weekend will no longer fight for the UFC lightweight title which is set to be vacated by Conor McGregor.

It was revealed late on Sunday evening that Ferguson had suffered a serious knee injury on Friday and would require surgery as a consequence. The UFC lightweight title will now be contested by Ferguson's original opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov and the UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway who will be moving up a weight division on just six days notice.

Holloway himself is coming off the back of a period on the sidelines having pulled out of his scheduled bout against Franke Edgar just last month at UFC 222. Holloway was set to defend his UFC featherweight title for the second time, but suffered an injury to his ankle just a few weeks out from the fight.

The Hawaiian will now put his 12 fight win streak on the line when he faces the 25-0 undefeated Russian fighter Nurmagomedov next Saturday. Unsurprisingly, the early odds on the fight saw Nurmagomedov open up as a clear -505 favourite over the +365 underdog Holloway.

Those begging the question why McGregor wasn't asked to step up and face Nurmagomedov swiftly had their answer from Dana White who made it very clear that the Irishman wasn't even approached about taking the fight.

"I don't think Conor McGregor could make the weight on six days notice," White told ESPN. "That's a tough weight cut for him. And Conor isn't exactly the guy I want to throw in as a late replacement fighter.  He's a guy I want to make a fight with, have the right amount of time to promote the fight, have the fight in the right place.

"No, I'm not interested in asking Conor to take the fight. I think that Conor could return in September and it could be against one of these guys."

White then went on to confirm that the fight between Nurmagomedov and Holloway will be for the official UFC lightweight title that McGregor currently holds and that Irishman will be stripped of his belt come fight night on April 7.

"As soon as these guys step in the ring and throw a punch, it's on for the title," White said. "Whoever wins, wins the title and we'll see what happens with Conor over the next several months. I know he had expressed some interest in fighting in September."

Nurmagomedov vs Holloway will still serve as the main event for the UFC 223 on Saturday night. McGregor is expected to be attendance to watch his teammate Artem Lobov fight Alex Caceres on the undercard.

Independent News Service

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