Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos has reportedly withdrawn from his fight with Conor McGregor at UFC 196 due to injury.
Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting reported on Tuesday the Brazilian’s withdrawal from the event scheduled to take place in Las Vegas on March 5. "According to multiple sources, dos Anjos suffered a broken foot late last week, forcing him to pull out of the lightweight title fight against McGregor," Helwani reported.
The news will be a significant blow to MMA fans with the bout so close. It was set to be a history-making occasion too, as a McGregor win would have seen him become the first fighter in the UFC's existence to hold two titles from two different weight classes.
It left UFC 196 with a huge chasm to fill at the top of the card, and it was filled by Nate Diaz, per UFC London.
The Irishman, one would suspect, will be hugely disappointed, especially as this is the second time in three bouts an illustrious opponent has pulled the plug so close to fight night; in McGregor's last eight matchups, the man set to face him has dropped out on four occasions.
Indeed, Jose Aldo withdrew in the buildup to their scheduled showdown at UFC 189, with Chad Mendes stepping in at late notice. McGregor knocked out Aldo’s replacement before famously beating the Brazilian himself at UFC 194 inside 13 seconds.
McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, posted the following on his Twitter feed in the minutes after the report surfaced:
Coach Kavanagh @John_Kavanagh
:(2/23/2016, 1:05:26 PM
Donald Cerrone just fought Sunday, submitting Alex Oliveira in the first round. But he’s known for taking fights at short notice, and he has history with McGregor.
As we can see here, the Irishman has been involved in verbal jousting with the man known as the Cowboy in the buildup to other bouts (warning: includes NSFW language):
Diaz, poses an intriguing lightweight test. He won his last bout against Michael Johnson on Dec. 19, but, as is the case with Cerrone, he was well beaten by dos Anjos too.
Still, he can't offer McGregor what dos Anjos did: another title belt and a chance to make history.