UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway stepped in on late notice to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov this Saturday Night at UFC 223, replacing injured UFC Interim Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson.
Holloway and Nurmagomedov are fighting for the UFC Lightweight Title at the event, but Holloway’s manager in Brian Butler-Au said the featherweight champion had wanted the UFC 223 bout to be contested at 170 pounds.
“We said we would do it at welterweight,” Butler-Au said on The MMA Hour. “And UFC wanted it to be a title fight. So we reevaluated (the situation).”
If the bout had been fought at welterweight, it would’ve been the divisional debut for the UFC Featherweight Champion.
Butler-Au also says that Holloway’s ankle injury, which caused him to be pulled from UFC 222, is now fully healed and shouldn’t play a factor at UFC 223.
“The treatment that they did on him really took to him as well as they could to anybody,” Butler-Au said. “He has been training, and he has been testing it, he has been pushing it. So far, he’s pushed it pretty hard, and it seems OK. This was just one of those things where we had to weigh out the options on whether or not the opportunity was worth the risk, and Max wanted to do it. He’s kind of talked about this moment for a long time — we just didn’t know it would happen on six days’ notice.”
UFC 223 takes place on Saturday, April 7 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York with Max Holloway and Khabib Nurmagomedov headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.