Photo Credit: UFC's Official Instagram

The Timeline: How Tony Ferguson’s Withdrawal Went Down

By now, everyone has seen the news: Tony Ferguson is injured, and is out against Khabib Nurmagomedov. In his place, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway has stepped up to the plate to face Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 223. The following details the entirety of the dramatic developments.

The news first broke around 6:45 PM, when Brett Okamoto of ESPN sent out the initial tweet.

In the minutes following, Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting and UFC president Dana White became involved. Hewlani seconded the report, while White offered the first official confirmation in a short video.

It was here that the possibility of Max Holloway taking Ferguson’s place first surfaced. White announced that Holloway would fill in, while Helwani and Okamoto reported the news as well.

At this time, the news was still very much suspect. Many in the MMA community believed this was nothing more than an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke. Both Helwani and Okamoto were quick to dispel of that notion.

At around the same time, more details became apparent surrounded the nature of Ferguson’s injury. Okamoto reported that the injury was related to Ferguson’s leg.

The second stage of the drama saw White entertain a short interview with Okamoto. White revealed Ferguson tore his LCL, and Holloway was officially confirmed to be fighting Nurmagomedov. One intriguing piece of information revealed here was that the fight would be contested for the UFC’s undisputed lightweight title. In that case, both Conor McGregor (the current undisputed champion) and Tony Ferguson (the current interim champion) would be stripped of their titles.

The UFC’s official Twitter posted a GIF of Max Holloway from a previous fight, signifying that the featherweight champion would, in fact, be fighting this weekend.

Around this time, the UFC tweeted out a GIF of Nurmagomedov, accompanied by one of his signature quotes. This tweet, still at a time where many believed the news was an extensive hoax, led many to doubt the seriousness of the situation.

However, more details surrounding Ferguson’s injury began to surface. Okamoto reported that the injury was sustained in a rather outrageous manner. This did nothing to quell neither doubters’ nor believers’ confusion, as no one was sure just how reliable the information was.

This, of course, led many to doubt the validity of the story even more. It also led to a few attempts at profanity-laced humor.

Some, in fact, just couldn’t stomach the news.

After the complexities of the Ferguson injury drama were thoroughly discussed, focus turned towards Holloway. Holloway, who suffered an injury just last month, was reportedly in no shape to fight. In fact, he was consulting with doctors about the proper course of action merely days before.

Should Holloway be able to compete, many have lauded his, um, courage and nerve.

Of course, technical analysis of Holloway’s substitution quickly followed, as well.

And as everyone knows, it wouldn’t be a lightweight title fight without involving Conor McGregor. Many were quick to point out what a Holloway win would mean for the Irishman’s eventual (?) UFC return.

Ultimately, the prevailing theme was that of confusion, shock, and the unknown. Here’s how some of the biggest names in the sport reacted to the news:

Of course, both Nurmagomedov and Ferguson weighed in as well. With their tweets, much of the concerns surrounding a hoax subsided. Both fighters offered their thoughts, and seemingly confirmed today’s earlier news.

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Hey, all! My name is Michael Fiedel, and I'm from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I love everything there is about MMA, particularly jiu jitsu. I do my best to cover what's going on in the sport, and my favorite thing to do is cover up-and-coming prospects. Thanks for reading!