Well, it’s Fight Week for UFC 223, and before any of the real fights go down on Saturday night, Interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson fought a FOX production cord this past Sunday and lost, Khabib Nurmagomedov verbally fought Conor McGregor teammate, Artem Lobov in a hotel lobby on Tuesday and speaking of the Irish superstar, McGregor, who isn’t even on the card, fought a UFC fighter transport bus yesterday at a UFC media event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and is now in police custody in New York facing assault charges. You can’t make this stuff up folks.
So where does that leave what just a few days ago, was one of the biggest cards for the UFC this year so far. Stepping in for Ferguson was going to be current UFC Featherweight champion Max Holloway but this morning was deemed medically unfit to fight. Now as of Friday morning the New York Athletic Commission is deciding on Anthony Pettis or Al Iaquinta to step in and fight for the undisputed lightweight title. You may be confused as if you remember; Conor McGregor is the current lightweight champion but has not fought since obtaining the title from Eddie Alvarez last year in New York and after his criminal behavior on Thursday has been stripped of the title. Ferguson is also the current Interim lightweight champion but Dana White has said as soon as the first punch is thrown in the main event fight, his title will go away. This will be the first time a title has just vanished into thin air like this.
And due to injuries from McGregor hurling a hand dolly through the window of the bus holding many of the fighters from the UFC 223 card, two fights have now been scrapped due to injuries sustained from broken glass from the incident. UFC lightweight fighter, Michael Chiesa has been pulled from his fight with Anthony Pettis due to facial lacerations and flyweight Ray Borg will no longer be able to face Brandon Moreno because of an eye injury. Artem Lobov was yanked from his fight against Alex Caceres because of his participation in the incident as well.
What is left in the dust is a pretty sub-par card now for a PPV event. And that is no disrespect to the fighters left on the card, but after all the changes, it looks like an event better suited for FS1 than PPV. And even with all the injuries that has come from all this, who suffered most from these events are two of the best women in mixed martial arts today, current UFC strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The fact that their fight last November was one of the biggest upsets of the year and frankly in MMA history and that is not what is being talked about the day before is appalling. Joanna went into that fight undefeated and feared by almost everyone she faced. Namajunas knocking her out in the first round was one of the most unexpected things to happen and has made this rematch even more meaningful for both. But nobody is talking about that now. We are talking about how shaken up Rose is from being in that van and how she almost had to be pulled from the card as well.
The question now is what does this due for the future of MMA and specifically for the UFC? Conor and his crew were let into the arena with questionable credentials. That cannot happen again. The security team did not take down Conor when he began to pick up things and throw them. Anyone else would have been taken down and handcuffed. That cannot happen again. What happens over the next week with charges and suspensions will show just how serious the UFC will take this. The only thing we can do now as fans and media is get behind all the fighters on this card and be happy it didn’t get the UFC 151 treatment and get cancelled all together.
Image credit: UFC