Max Holloway has reportedly been pulled from the main event of UFC 223. On Friday morning, ahead of the early weigh-ins for the event, Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com reported that the UFC featherweight champion had been declared medically unable to compete at Saturday night’s pay-per-view.
The news comes just days after Holloway’s nutritionist George Lockhart said that Holloway was tied for the biggest weight cut he’s ever been involved with and was going to be a task.
Lockhart said in an interview:
This is rare — I want people to know that — but he’s going to be an extreme ‘keto state.’ We need him to burn as much fat as humanly possible. Whereas every other fighter we’re working with this week at UFC 223 has already lost the fat, coming in shredded and just needing to cut water, Max has to be in a state where he’s burning fat.
He’s going to be running a few hours this week. And some people who run marathons or condition a lot might say that’s not a lot, but when you’re depleting your body and asking it to do more, that’s the challenge. Typically, we fuel fighters up to give their body what they need. If I say, ‘Hey, we need you to go on a run,’ we’ll fuel the body up for it, so the body wants to do it. What I told Max is, ‘I’m going to be asking you to do things your body is not going to want to do.’ And that’s when it becomes a mental thing.
BREAKING: Max Holloway has been declared medically unfit to fight. Holloway is out of UFC 223. Per Dana White.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) April 6, 2018
Holloway had stepped up on short notice to face Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight championship after Tony Ferguson was forced to withdraw from the bout. Ferguson suffered a torn LCL during a freak accident while conducting media interviews. Holloway was then ready to become a two-weight champion before the recent development.
He was reportedly stopped during his weight cut by doctors on the scene.
This from a member of Holloway’s team:
“Max wants to keep pushing and is close but the doctors came up and just stopped it. Doctors stopped it not us. Max was going.”
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 6, 2018
Because of the injury, Anthony Pettis was initially called upon to face Nurmagomedov.
Anthony Pettis has now been called upon to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov. He has yet to weigh in. He has an hour to do so. He was left opponentless after Chiesa got cut yesterday. UFC confirms. @MMAjunkie first reported.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 6, 2018
Pettis would have entered the fight following a loss to Dustin Poirier in Nov. 2017. Pettis has lost five of his last seven fights, including a loss to Holloway at UFC 206, which was the fight that first crowned Holloway the interim featherweight champion.
However, due to a dispute with his contract, the UFC then turned to Paul Felder, who is a teammate of Pettis.
— Karyn Bryant (@KarynBryant) April 6, 2018
Of course, with the event being cursed, the athletic commission did not approve of the doubt due to concerns over rankings.
I tried to get it. Commission is stopping it
— Paul Felder (@felderpaul) April 6, 2018
Eventually, UFC officials confirmed that Al Iaquinta will be moved to the main event slot to face Nurmagomedov. Iaquinta was initially set to face off against Paul Felder on the main card.
Holloway issued a public apology on social media to Nurmagomedov and his team.
. @TeamKhabib my brother I want to keep going but they are stopping me. Sorry to your team and the fans. You don’t deserve this. This is number one. Shout outs to you and @Showtimepettis . Give the fans what they deserve
— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) April 6, 2018
The latest developments continue the UFC’s cursed tenure in Brooklyn. The first time the promotion held an event at Barclays Center, it was headlined by the inaugural women’s featherweight championship between Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie. de Randamie captured the title before immediately vacating it instead of facing Cris Cyborg, the current title holder. Initially, plans for a featherweight unification bout between Jose Aldo and Max Holloway was targeted for the event, before it fell through due to injuries and Holloway want to spend the holiday with his family.
UFC 223: Fight Time & Viewing Details
Event: UFC 223
Date: Saturday, April 7, 2018
Location: Brooklyn New York
Venue: Barclays Center
Pay-Per-View Card Time: 10:00 P.M. EST
Broadcast: UFC Fight Pass, FOX Sports 1, Pay-per-view
UFC 223 Fight Card
MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10:00 p.m. ET)
Max Holloway vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov – forlightweight title
- Champ Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk – for women’s strawweight title
- Calvin Kattar vs. Renato Moicano
Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta
PRELIMINARY CARD (FOX Sports 1, 8:00 p.m. ET)
- Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Ray Borg vs. Brandon Moreno
- Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Joe Lauzon
- Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Evan Dunham
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6:15 p.m. ET)
Alex Caceres vs. Artem Lobov
- Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Bec Rawlings
- Devin Clark vs. Michael Rodriguez
- Kyle Bochniak vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov