The date was March 31st, Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov was still on. UFC 223 was still the best card of the year. I was more stoked for this card than I had been for months. Eight days away, what could go wrong?… it all started with a trip…
Tony Ferguson was in Los Angeles doing required media for the UFC. He was at FOX, saw someone he knew, turned and slipped. And tore his LCL off the bone. Eliminating him from the fight. UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway agreed on 6-days notice to fight Khabib at UFC 223 for the lightweight title. A super fan in some aspects. So no big deal there, I was equally as excited to watch that… Enter Conor McGregor…
Originally Conor planned to fly in Friday, April 6th. To watch the fight that would be for the belt he was just stripped of. Earlier this week there was altercation involving McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov and Khabib Nurmagomedov. So, Conor McGregor flew down from Dublin a day early. He was let into the Barclays Center by members of The Mac Life (Conor’s website).
From there he sought out the bus with Khabib and his team on it. Once he found it, he threw chairs and a dollie at the bus. The latter object shattered a window on the bus. Michael Chiesa, an innocent bystander, suffered lacerations on his face and head. Ray Borg another fighter on the bus had glass land in his eyes. McGregor was yelling and clamoring for Khabib and his team to step outside.
Once security was able to pull Conor and his team back, they fled the scene, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. As a result: Michael Chiesa couldn’t fight Anthony Pettis, Ray Borg was unable to fight Brandon Moreno and for his involvement in the incident Artem Lobov was pulled off the card. A thirteen fight card now suddenly had ten fights.
Conor McGregor is now wanted by NYPD for questioning. Hours pass, he finally turns himself into the police and awaits a hearing. At his hearing, McGregor was found guilty of three accounts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. The judge sets his bail at $50,000, and has an additional hearing on June 14th. Conor’s friend and training partner Dillon Danis posts his bail.
April 6th, UFC 223 is still in my opinion a fantastic card. Around 8:00am I check my phone… Max Holloway has been deemed medically unfit to fight. The main event is gone again, I immediately scour the internet looking for any update. Plan B, Anthony Pettis, who had lost his opponent the day before agrees to the fight. Pettis weighs in at 155.2lbs, two tenths of a pound off of championship weight. The NYSAC (New York State Athletic Commission) won’t give him any extra time to cut the weight.
Anthony Pettis then asks the UFC for money to take the fight with Khabib in either a non-title situation, or a scenario where only Khabib is eligible for the title. The UFC promptly says no. Plan C, Paul Felder (who still had his fight in tact) offers to fight Nurmagomedov on a day’s notice. Once again the NYSAC halts this idea. Citing that because Paul Felder isn’t ranked in the UFC’s top 15, he can’t fight for a UFC championship.
Plan D, ‘Raging’ Al Iaquinta (whom in the past has openly criticized everything about the UFC ownership including UFC president Dana White) suddenly has become the last option; He is ranked #11 in the world, has won his last 5 fights in a row and fights out of Long Island, New York. The only caveat is that Iaquinta also weighed in at 155.2lbs. Unlike Anthony Pettis, Al weighed in with his underwear on. The NYSAC weighs the shorts, they are exactly .2lbs. Technically Al Iaquinta makes weight. The NYSAC won’t recognize this technicality, saying again only Khabib can win the lightweight championship. I will take that!
Now, because Al Iaquinta has agreed to fight Khabib, he loses his fight against earlier mentioned Mr. Felder. Now UFC 223 will proceed with only nine fights. At the UFC 25th anniversary press conference, when asked about if ‘Raging’ Al was eligible for a title, he had an awesome answer. In Dana White’s and the UFC eye’s if Al Iaquinta can do the impossible and win, he will be considered the UFC lightweight champion. The NYSAC may not agree, but the UFC doesn’t care. With the .2lb shorts Al made weight. In Dana’s words, “if you beat the man, you are the man.”
This has easily been the craziest week in UFC history, worse than the Jon Jones UFC 200 debacle, worse than the Amanda Nunes UFC 213 scrapping. Four different main event pairings in under six hours. That is insane, from thirteen fights down to nine in a matter of a day. The good news in this wild melee, all the fighters who lost their fights will be paid their show money. That is a huge relief at least the fighters will get something. UFC 223 is hopefully still a great night of fights. I’m still excited, I can’t wait to watch everyone show up for Barclays in Brooklyn!
Image credit: RT.com