Brian Ortega was asked to face Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 on one week’s notice. He ultimately didn’t get the fight though, because featherweight champ Max Holloway was also available.
UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway wasn’t the only fighter asked by the UFC to save this weekend’s UFC 223.
Holloway ultimately opted to replace Tony Ferguson and face Khabib Nurmagomedov on less than one week’s notice for the lightweight title in the evening’s headliner, but top 145-pound contender Brian Ortega was on the UFC’s list of replacement possibilities as well.
Ortega revealed Monday on Twitter that promotion president Dana White called him after the Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov cancellation and that “T-City” had accepted the title shot up a weight class. This was before “Blessed” agreed to the short-notice affair, however, and when he did, the bout was off the table for Ortega.
For the record, Dana called me yesterday to see if I would step in against Khabib since Max hadn’t responded yet. I said yes. Eventually, Max replied and Dana gave him the fight. If all goes according to plan, I’ll get my turn – at both of them.
— Brian Ortega (@BrianTcity) April 2, 2018
“For the record, Dana called me yesterday to see if I would step in against Khabib since Max hadn’t responded yet. I said yes,” he wrote. “Eventually, Max replied and Dana gave him the fight. If all goes according to plan, I’ll get my turn — at both of them.”
Ortega last defeated Frankie Edgar by first-round knockout in the UFC 222 co-feature last month.
Less than a week from the upcoming pay-per-view card, seemingly the inevitable happened: Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov was scrapped. This time, “El Cucuy” caused the cancellation, as he suffered a knee injury while doing UFC media duties late last week. Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have been booked to square off four times, the first way back in December 2015.
Holloway has an opportunity to become the second fighter in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously when he meets Nurmagomedov for the 155-pound strap in the evening’s headliner. The first, of course, was current champ Conor McGregor, when he won the lightweight title in November 2016 against Eddie Alvarez.
UFC 223 takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday night. Also set for the card is a strawweight title rematch between champion Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.