WATCH: When Khabib Nurmagomedov and Max Holloway Trash Talked But the Fight Never Took Place

Published 04/04/2021, 12:26 PM EDT


Khabib Nurmagomedov and the start to his Lightweight reign is one of the most controversial things in the UFC. However, Khabib didn’t create the controversy as much as Conor McGregor, who threw a dolly at the fighter’s bus a night before the fight. But there was plenty of non-McGregor drama the UFC had to deal with anyway.

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UFC 223 was supposed to be headlined by Max Holloway making his long-awaited move to Lightweight to become the second simultaneous champ-champ in the UFC. But to do that, he had to take on Khabib Nurmagomedov. Khabib was yet to be crowned as champion, but this fight was supposed to do it. 3 years ago today, the pair met in an exciting press conference.

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Khabib would ultimately not face Holloway at the card. He would beat Al Iaquinta for the title instead and would defend it up until his retirement last October. Holloway would make his jump to Lightweight in 2019 for interim gold to become #1 contender for Khabib. However, Dustin Poirier would end that dream. But why did Holloway not make the walk at UFC 223?

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Max Holloway: What happened at UFC 223?

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Max Holloway fighting would have been surreal considering the status both men have. It would also be the perfect stylistic contrast, with Khabib being a wrestler and Holloway being one of the most proficient strikers in the sport. However, this was not the first fight Khabib was offered and wasn’t the last either.

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 04: UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov speaks to UFC president Dana White during the UFC 229 Press Conference inside The Park Theater at Park MGM on October 4, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Nurmagomedov was initially scheduled to face long-time rival, Tony Ferguson. However, the fight fell apart for the fourth time after Ferguson tripped over an electric wire and tore his knee. Holloway stepped in and was at a press conference, but was later deemed medically unfit to compete due to issues with his weight cut.

The fight was then offered to former champion Anthony Pettis, who couldn’t make weight. Paul Felder was on the card and offered to take the bout, but it wasn’t sanctioned as Felder was unranked at the time. Ultimately, Khabib fought the man Felder was supposed to fight in Al Iaquinta. Nurmagomedov would win via decision and embark on his title reign, which ended with him retiring.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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