With no UFC events this week, we figured we would take a look back at the absolutely chaotic and crazy trail of events at UFC 223. This was definitely one of the craziest events that we have seen in recent history and one that could have ramifications for the next few years in the UFC.
The MMA Drama
I have been around the world of MMA since early 2012 and I have never seen anything like the mess that happened at UFC 223. It all started out when the planned fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson was cancelled due to Ferguson injuring his knee, which caused him to pull out of the fight. The injury has now forced him to have surgery on a torn ligament in his knee and his time table on his return is up in the air. Ferguson has posted images online of his knee after surgery and it looked absolutely grotesque.
What is even more crazy about his injury is how he did it. Ferguson was filming promotional material and slipped on a wire that was set up next to wear Ferguson was being filmed. Ferguson is expected to miss at least 4-6 months, if not longer.
With Ferguson out of the main event, the brass of the UFC reached out to UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway, to determine if he would be willing to move up in weight and contend for the UFC Lightweight Championship. Holloway agreed to take the fight on 6 days notice, which is absolutely insane to accept the fight against potentially the #1 pound for pound fighter and one of the greatest wrestlers in MMA on short notice.
Holloway flew in and began his weight cut but during the weight cut, the staff at the New York Athletic Commission made the determination that it was unsafe for Holloway to continue with his weight cut, therefore pulling him from the fight. That left the UFC scurrying around trying to find another opponent with 1 day until the fight. Originally, there was rumor coming out of New York that Paul Felder would take the fight but due to the New York State Athletic Commission refusing Felder permission to fight for a title due to his UFC ranking.
This is without a doubt the most absurd thing that I’ve ever seen due to the fact that the commission has no say so in what a promotion does with their titles and should have no decision in title fights. With that being said, the UFC reached out to Al Iaquinta, who was scheduled to originally face Paul Felder, and allowed him to face Khabib. Iaquinta lost the fight at UFC 223 but he went all 5 rounds and I truly believe that with a full training camp for Nurmagomedov, he could of possibly won the fight.
And then there is the white elephant in the room. Early in the week, Khabib Nurmagomedov confronted Artem Lobov and that caused retaliation from Conor McGregor, who was at his home in Ireland. McGregor hopped on a plane and flew to New York, and what happened next was a series of events that would change the event totally!
Conor McGregor and several members of his camp arrived at the event center where they were having media events and began physically attacking a bus that contained several fighters that were scheduled to fight at UFC 223. McGregor began throwing large objects at the bus and caused the windows to bust and several fighters to become injured. Michael Chiesa received several lacerations to his face, which forced him to be removed from the fight card. Chiesa was originally scheduled to fight Anthony Pettis but that fight was cancelled due to Chiesa’s injury.
Ray Borg was also injured during the incident, receiving shards of glass in his eyes and forcing his fight with Brandon Moreno to be cancelled due to his injury. Paul Felder also was not able to fight, not because of injury but because his opponent, Iaquinta, now had to fight Nurmagomedov.
To say that it was a confusing week in the MMA would be a drastic understatement but what will happen going forward? Originally Dana White stated that he was not sure if he would ever allow Conor McGregor to fight in the UFC again but has since recanted that statement and now is letting the legal process take its process.
What’s up with Khabib?
The reality is that a fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor could be the biggest event ever in combat sports. We are talking much larger than any other MMA event and potentially larger than the McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather boxing match. The ramifications from a legal standpoint could set McGregor back quite a bit of time though.
He was arrested for the incident and is awaiting trial. Only time will tell how this will play out but one thing is for certain, this was the biggest out of the cage issue the UFC has ever had to deal with and they hope that it is the last time they ever have to deal with this type of issue.