Just seven days ago, UFC 223 was supposed to feature interim lightweight champ Tony Ferguson facing undefeated contender Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed UFC lightweight championship.
Now, merely a week later, UFC 223 features a main event in which only one half of the bout, Nurmagomedov can become the official UFC lightweight champion, while late-replacement Al Iaquinta can become the de facto champ without a belt. The UFC 223 fight card has been reduced from 13 to 9 bouts. And the biggest combat sports star in the world, Conor McGregor, was led into court in handcuffs.
With all of the madness and confusion of the past few days, Ferguson, despite having to withdraw from the UFC 223 main event because of a freak knee injury, believes he is the last man standing in the UFC lightweight division and is its rightful champion.
In an Instagram post on Friday, Ferguson stated, “From all the mess this week, there is CLEARLY only one legitimate lightweight champion left. I look forward to fighting the winner of the number one contender fight. Props to Al Iaquinta for stepping up and props to Tiramisu Khabib Nurmagomedov for making weight.”
UFC president Dana White has been rather confusing with his comments about the lightweight division for weeks. He has refused to say that the promotion is stripping anyone of their belt and added that Iaquinta would be the champ if he wins at UFC 223 but wouldn’t be recognized as such by the New York State Athletic Commission.
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Even if Nurmagomedov wins and is recognized as the champ by the NYSAC, White has simply said that Ferguson’s interim belt “goes away” but that he isn’t being stripped. So what gives? Your guess is as good as ours, as we’re not likely to sort this situation out until the cursed match-up between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov finally makes it to the Octagon.
From all the mess this week, there is CLEARLY only 1 legitimate Lightweight Champion left. I look forward to fighting the winner of the number one contender fight. Props to Al @aliaquinta for stepping up & props to Tiramisu @khabib_nurmagomedov for making weight #ufc223 – Champ ?? ????? #TonyFergusonMMA SnapJitsu™️#SnapDownCity My Mat.