While it might have seemed like a logical move, Conor McGregor was not offered a short-notice fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 after Tony Ferguson withdrew from the contest due to a knee injury.
Instead, that honor went to featherweight champion Max Holloway, who will attempt to join McGregor as the only UFC fighters to hold two belts simultaneously when he meets Nurmagomedov in the new UFC 223 headliner at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday. According to UFC President Dana White, the promotion did not consider McGregor an option, even though the Irishman had offered to step in for Holloway against Frankie Edgar at UFC 222.
"I don't think Conor McGregor could make the weight on six days' notice. That's a tough weight cut for him," White told ESPN.com. "And Conor is not the guy I want to throw in as a late replacement fighter. He's a guy I want to make a fight with and have the right amount of time to promote the fight.
"I think Conor could return in September, and it could be against one of these guys.”
White announced via Twitter that Holloway vs. Nurmagomedov will be for the “official” lightweight crown but made no mention of stripping McGregor, who remains the undisputed champ. According to the ESPN report, however, McGregor is expected to lose the belt at the conclusion of UFC 223.
White was effusive in his praise of Holloway, who has won 12 straight fights since a loss to McGregor in August 2013.
"He's a stud," White said. "The guy hasn't lost a fight since 2013, and that was a decision to Conor McGregor.
"He's the type of guy that steps up for opportunities like this. And when you think about it, if he wins this fight, other than Conor McGregor, he will be the only guy to hold two belts at the same time.”