It was supposed to be a stellar card featuring two of the best lightweights in the world in Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. But UFC 223 fell into disarray when Ferguson got injured last weekend, and things spiraled out of control even more yesterday and today. Now, with the dust settling on van-smashing melees and athletic commission nonsense, Saturday night’s main event will feature Nurmagomedov versus… Al Iaquinta.

Let’s save the whole Conor McGregor side of this UFC 223 tale for another post, shall we? Instead, we’ll begin with Ferguson’s replacement, featherweight champ Max Holloway.

More from Caged Insider

Holloway flew into town like a hero riding in to save the day. And in theory, making the lightweight cutoff of 155 pounds should’ve been no problem for the king of all 145 pounders. But alas, while everyone was on treadmills and in saunas, working to melt away the pounds, the Hawaiian hit a snag.

That’s right, the New York State Athletic Commission didn’t like the look of Holloway as he was cutting weight, and declared the match-up off.

What then? Who would Nurmagomedov face in the main event? Was there anyone available? There was, actually. And he is a former lightweight champ to boot.


But Pettis still had to weigh in, and he needed to make 155 pounds on the dot for it to be a viable championship bout.


Unfortunately, Pettis was 155.2 pounds when he stepped on the scale, and when the Commission took the scale away when he was done, it became clear there’d be no further weight cutting. Also, negotiations between Pettis and the UFC fell off a cliff around then, so the hunt was on for someone else to face Nurmagomedov.

It was time for Paul Felder to take a stab at it. He was supposed to face Iaquinta, but whatever, at this stage it was a free-for-all and only a matter of time before the UFC began considering Anderson Silva, Daniel Cormier and a rusty row boat as possible Nurmagomedov opponents.

Guess what, though? Once more, the Commission had other ideas.


Apparently the Commission had problems with Felder’s fighter rankings… as if those rankings actually mean something.


At this point, Nurmagomedov was going to end up fighting his fuzzy hat in the main event. Enter: “Ragin’ Al”, who weighed in at 155.2, but to prove that he would’ve made weight if he’d taken off his underwear, put his underwear on a scale. It was .2 pounds.

Iaquinta – who not long ago said “screw this” about his UFC contract and embarked on a career as a real estate agent on Long Island (I’m not kidding) – would be facing Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 223.

Here’s the UFC’s official statement:

Undefeated UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, will now face New York’s own Al Iaquinta for the official lightweight title. The bout will take place this Saturday at UFC 223: Khabib vs Iaquinta at Barclays Center.

The change in the main event occurred when featherweight champion, Max Holloway, was deemed unfit to fight.

Due to Iaquinta not making the 155-pound championship limit, the UFC lightweight title will only be eligible to be won by Nurmagomedov. Should Iaquinta win, he will not be awarded the title, but if Nurmagomedov wins, he will be crowned the undisputed champion.

Iaquinta is riding a five-fight win streak with notable victories over Jorge Masvidal, Kevin Lee and Diego Sanchez. On Saturday, he gets the biggest fight of his life in his home state against the most feared lightweight on the planet.

And guess what? Even though that .2-pound thing has the Commission saying “nah, kid” to the prospect of Iaquinta earning a belt if he wins, UFC boss Dana White says that if Iaquinta wins Saturday’s five-round fight, he WILL be considered the champ, Commission be damned.

So that’s half of what happened in the wacky world of the UFC today. How was your day?