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UFC 223 finally gets a main event: Nurmagomedov vs. Iaquinta


First, it was Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson for a version of the UFC lightweight title. Then, it was Nurmagomedov vs. UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway for a version of the UFC lightweight title when Ferguson tore up his knee last week.

Now, following the New York State Athletic Commission pulling Holloway this morning due to medical reasons related to his weight cut, it will be Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta in the main event of UFC 223 for the "official" UFC lightweight title.

Got all that?

The fight was confirmed late-Friday afternoon after chaos ensued this morning when the commission announced Holloway wouldn't be allowed to weigh in or compete. Three men on the card: Anthony Pettis, Al Iaquinta, and Paul Felder were all under consideration. Pettis found himself free when Michael Chiesa was removed due to cuts suffered when Conor McGregor threw a metal dolly through a window of a van he was sitting in Thursday.

Pettis was the front runner for the spot, but he weighed in .2 pounds over the 155 pound limit and then with two hours to make the weight, the commission pulled the scales for an unknown reason.

Paul Felder was also interested in the fight, but because he is unranked in the UFC's flawed ranking system, the commission wouldn't allow that to move forward. This was the same state commission that allowed McGregor to fight for the lightweight title at Madison Square Garden despite being unranked at lightweight.

That left New Yorker Iaquinta who weighed for his fight with Felder at 155.2 pounds, but the UFC decided to move forward with his as opposed to Pettis. However, because he "missed" championship weight, only Nurmagomedov can win the UFC lightweight title Saturday.

However, Dana White said at a Friday press conference that the commission weighed the trunks and they're at .2 pounds so it's a championship fight. White alluded to the fact that Iaquinta would be considered the champion if he wins, but did so in a way that opened up more questions about that process and how the commission plays into it.

The remaining question is exactly what version of the lightweight title is on the line for Nurmagomedov as McGregor has yet to officially be stripped of the title he has never defended. That might be clarified at a UFC media event scheduled for later tonight, but in the press release linked above, they call it "the official UFC lightweight title."