It seems so long ago that MMA fans were dealing with the disappointment of hearing that Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson -- a fight that already had been booked three times previously -- had been canceled once again.
That was just last Sunday, but hopeful news immediately followed: Featherweight champion Max Holloway stepped up to face Nurmagomedov in Saturday's lightweight championship fight in New York.
Holloway had a lot of weight to cut in six days, though, so it was no shock when, at Friday morning's weigh-ins, the New York State Athletic Commission declared him "medically unfit" to fight. The UFC tried to scramble for another Nurmagomedov opponent -- former champ Anthony Pettis? Paul Felder? -- but could not gain NYSAC approval. Finally, late in the afternoon, an opponent emerged: Al Iaquinta.
Still, there are complications. By NYSAC rules, Nurmagomedov will be eligible to win the 155-pound belt Saturday night but his opponent will not. Iaquinta weighed in at 155.2 -- an acceptable weight for the lightweight prelim he was booked in at the time, but not for a title fight. However, at the post-weigh-ins press conference Friday night, UFC president Dana White said the promotion will recognize Iaquinta as champion if he wins.
There will also be a more conventional championship fight at the Barclays Center event.
Rose Namajunas, who last November knocked out Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the strawweight title in what was named ESPN's Upset of the Year, will try to do it again in the co-main event. The rematch puts Jedrzejczyk in a spot she's never previously been in: seeking redemption.
Overall, UFC 223 has been stripped down to 10 bouts in the wake of the bus-attack incident involving Conor McGregor at Thursday's media day, because two fighters (Michael Chiesa, Ray Borg) scheduled to compete Saturday were injured by broken glass and another (Artem Lobov) was pulled because of his alleged involvement.
Who will come out on top?