Ferguson injured; Holloway to face Khabib on 6 days notice at UFC 223

William Hill opened Khabib Nurmagomedov as a -500 favorite vs. Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway (+350) in the UFC 223 main event this Saturday in Brooklyn.

Published on Monday, 4/2/18, at 12:55 p.m. Eastern.

Tony Ferguson suffered a torn ligament in his knee Friday when he tripped in a studio while completing pre-fight promotional duties. The freak accident forced him to withdraw from his UFC 223 headliner against Khabib Nurmagomedov.

This wasn’t even an April Fool’s joke.

This is the fourth time that Ferguson-Nurmagomedov has been cancelled. Ferguson is withdrawing here for the second time due to an injury, while Nurmagomedov once pulled out with an injury and failed to make weight the previous time these 155-pounders were set to scrap.

When these last-minute injuries occur, the promotion faces a huge challenge in finding a replacement. Sometimes, though, the fighter who steps in on short notice can create just as exciting of a fight.

That was certainly the case when Nate Diaz replaced Rafael dos Anjos to fight Conor McGregor. Diaz, fighting on 10 days of notice, pulled the upset when he submitted McGregor in the second round of the UFC 196 headliner. That led to an epic rematch won by McGregor, which will eventually lead to a rubber match.

This time around, the man stepping up is a reigning champion in featherweight kingpin, Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway.

Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) has won 12 fights in a row and hasn’t lost since dropping a unanimous decision to McGregor at UFC Boston on August 17 of 2013. The Hawaiian was only 21 years old when he lost to ‘The Notorious.’

Holloway won the featherweight strap by scoring a third-round KO over Jose Aldo at UFC 212 in Rio. He defended his strap by dusting Aldo yet again by third-round KO at UFC 218 in Detroit.

Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0) is off dominant wins over Michael Johnson and Edson Barboza. His combination of wrestling and grappling is elite, and the 29-year-old deal out brutal punishment from the top in ground-and-pound fashion.

William Hill opened Nurmagomedov as a -500 favorite early this morning, with Holloway as the +350 underdog. 5Dimes.eu has one proposition wager available: -160 that the fight doesn’t go to a decision, with +120 odds for the fight to go the five-round distance. There was no total for ‘over/under’ wagers yet.

Holloway told MMA Junkie, “When the UFC called, they called the right guy. I’m here on six days notice. (Khabib) is an animal. This guys is one of the most feared guys, I don’t know why, we’re all fighters, we all train, He’s human, I’m human. We get to go out there and find out who’s better.”

In an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, UFC President Dana White was asked what happens to Ferguson’s interim lightweight title. White responded, “it goes away.” Then when asked if he’ll eventually book Ferguson-Nurmagomedov for a fifth time, White said, “Hell no! I’m never making that fight again — ever.”

Follow Brian Edwards’ sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.

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