UFC\'s Latest Announcement Could Shed Light On McGregor\'s Future

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NEW YORK – We’ll probably never know exactly how close the UFC came to cancelling Saturday night’s pay-per-view card in Brooklyn.

The UFC 223 card felt cursed from the moment Tony Ferguson was pulled from his main event fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov when he injured his knee doing promotional work.

It only got worse from there, and UFC president Dana White admitted Friday that him and his team had discussed scrapping the card altogether.

“When you start looking at losing the main event (and) we lost three fights yesterday, yeah, (cancelling the event) was definitely talked about,” White said. “But at the end of the day, fans bought tickets, there’s people who flew in from other states and other countries. You’ve gotta roll, man. You’ve gotta figure it out and it’s on with the show.”

To the UFC’s credit, they did manage to improvise and package together a half-decent fight card on Saturday night. With only nine fights scheduled, UFC 223 is one of the shortest cards in recent memory, but there were still two championship belts on the line and a handful of intriguing matchups on the undercard.

Of course, Conor McGregor’s arrest for attacking a bus full of fighters largely overshadowed just how hard the UFC 223 card was hit – although he was responsible for a lot of that, too.

When the Irishman threw a metal dolly through the window of the bus, the shattered glass caused injuries to Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg that forced them to be pulled from their fights Saturday night. McGregor’s teammate, Artem Lobov, also had his scrap with Alex Caceres cancelled.

When Max Holloway, who was Ferguson’s replacement to fight Nurmagomeov, was deemed medically-unfit to continue with his weight cut on Friday morning, it seemed entirely possible that the entire card would simply be cancelled.

Only hours later did the UFC confirm that the event would continue, with Al Iaquinta stepping in to take on Nurmagomedov. Fans could get refunds for their tickets if they wanted, but the show would go on.

It would have been somewhat unprecedented for the UFC to cancel an event the day before it was scheduled.

The company famously scrapped UFC 151 when then light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones refused to accept a short-notice fight against Chael Sonnen, but that announcement came more than a week before the event was set to go ahead.

Three years ago, the company also decided to turn the originally scheduled UFC 196 into a lesser UFC Fight Night card and not air it on pay-per-view.

NOT HAVING IT

A lot has been made of the fact that Iaquinta was stepping in on short notice 11 years to the day after his coach and mentor pulled off arguably the biggest upset in UFC history.

In 2007, Matt Serra was awarded a welterweight title shot when he won the Ultimate Fighter reality show. Then, he got into the octagon and shocked the world when he knocked out the seemingly invincible Georges St. Pierre.

It was a stunning result that sent shock waves around the sports world.

When Iaquinta was asked about whether he thought that fighting on the anniversary of his coach’s great triumph might mean something though, the New Yorker made it very clear that he didn’t believe that at all.

“Not really, crazy things happen,” Iaquinta said. “It just happened. It happened on this day and it turned out well for me so far. I just have to go out and get it done.”

For his part, Serra was – obviously – predicting that Iaquinta was going to follow in his footsteps.

“Al’s extremely well rounded,” Serra told MMAJunkie.com. “Al’s going to shock the f—ing world.”

DENYING IT

As the UFC was seeking a replacement for Nurmagomedov on Friday afternoon, it seemed for a while that Paul Felder was the frontrunner to take on the Russian for the lightweight title.

Then, reports emerged that the New York State Athletic Commission had ruled that Felder would not be allowed to fight for the championship because he didn’t appear in the top-15 in the UFC’s official rankings.

People were understandably angry, because the official rankings are ridiculous and voted on by media members who nobody has ever heard of.

As it turns out, that anger may have been misplaced.

Kim Sumbler, the executive director of the NYSAC told reporters on Saturday night that UFC officials never approached her commission about Felder fighting and therefore they never even had the option of turning down the fight.

WANTS BACK

McGregor probably isn’t going to be fighting for a while, but apparently he wants to.

On Saturday, McGregor’s manager, Audie A. Attar, released a statement on Twitter that praised the Irish star and offered a hint about his preference for the near future.

“So much rumor and misinformation about my client, Conor McGregor,” Attar wrote. “The matter is in the hands of law enforcement and I cannot really say more. Conor is a great father, a fiercely loyal friend and one of the best athletes in the world.

“He looks forward to getting back to fighting as soon as possible.”

daustin@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/DannyAustin_9

Source : http://leaderpost.com/sports/mma/ufc-223-despite-scrapped-fights-its-on-with-the-show/wcm/97cef45a-8e6a-46ae-bcb7-5fe02819e481

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