After a morning full of confusion, Brooklyn’s UFC 223 has a new main event. Khabib Nurmagomedov will face off against New York native Al Iaquinta, although due to Iaquinta coming in at 155.2 pounds only Khabib is eligible to win the UFC lightweight title. The fight is a replacement of a replacement. Originally Khabib was set to face interim lightweight champ Tony Ferguson, but Ferguson injured his knee in a freak accident. The UFC replaced him with featherweight champ Max Holloway, but the New York State Athletic commission deemed him medically unfit to fight on Friday morning before he could weigh in.
From there MMA reporters on site witnessed a ridiculous game of musical chairs to see who would step into the UFC 223 main event. Anthony Pettis was without an opponent after Michael Chiesa suffered facial lacerations in Thursday’s Conor McGregor bus incident, so he was the first to be offered the fight. But word is he asked for too much money so the UFC moved on to Paul Felder, who was set to fight Al Iaquinta on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for Felder and the UFC, the NYSAC stepped in and nixed that possibility on the grounds that Felder was an unranked lightweight. That left his opponent Al Iaquinta as the only ranked lightweight to have already weighed in. But the commission once again made things difficult because Iaquinta stepped on the scales at 155.2 pounds, which is fine for a non-championship bout but too high to compete for the belt. The UFC and Iaquinta argued that his fight shorts made up the .2 pounds he came in over, but in the end Iaquinta was deemed ineligible for the title even if he wins.