It has been a brutal week for undefeated lightweight star Khabib Nurmagomedov.
First, his originally scheduled opponent, Tony Ferguson, was forced out of their planned UFC 223 lightweight title fight with an injury. Miraculously, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway then agreed to step in and fight Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title on just six days notice. Regrettably, he too was then forced out of the contest when the New York State Athletic Commission decided they didn’t like the look of his weight cut.
With Holloway out just a day before the fight was expected to occur, the UFC began a desperate scramble to find a replacement opponent for Nurmagomedov.
The first option on the the table was former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Pettis was originally expected to battle Michael Chiesa on the UFC 223 main card, but was left without an opponent when Chiesa was sidelined with an injury sustained in Conor McGregor’s Thursday bus attack. Unfortunately, Pettis and the UFC failed to come to an agreement.
Next, the promotion briefly considered Paul Felder, who was scheduled to fight Al Iaquinta on the UFC 223 main card. Unfortunately, the NYSAC deemed Felder a no-go on the basis of his station in the rankings.
Luckily, the promotion has finally locked down a replacement opponent for Nurmagomedov in New York’s own lightweight contender and burgeoning real estate mogul, “Ragin'” Al Iaquinta, per MMAJunkie.com. The New Yorker has been plucked from his scheduled fight with Felder, and will battle Khabib Nurmagomedov for five rounds in the UFC 223 main event tomorrow night. Regrettably, Iaquinta will not earn the UFC lightweight title if he defies the odds and defeats the seemingly unstoppable Khabib Nurmagomedov, as he tipped the scales slightly above the limit for a lightweight title fight (155 pounds) at 155.2.
What a whirlwind it’s been.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/6/2018.