Max Holloway Declared Medically Unfit for UFC 223 vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2018

BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 04:  Max Holloway holds an open training session for fans and media during the UFC 223 Open Workouts at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on April 4, 2018 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Saturday's UFC 223 card suffered another major setback after UFC President Dana White confirmed Max Holloway has been ruled medically unfit to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight championship, ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto reported Friday.

The Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire reported Anthony Pettis will replace Holloway in the UFC 223 main event. Pettis was originally slated to take on Michael Chiesa.

The news comes after the UFC already announced it removed three fighters from the event two days before the pay-per-view.

Chiesa and Ray Borg suffered injuries during Conor McGregor's outburst at UFC 223 media day Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and the company removed Artem Lobov for his role in the incident.

The Ringer's Chuck Mindenhall noted the series of events that led to what will now be Nurmagomedov vs. Pettis:

Chuck Mindenhall @ChuckMindenhall

It's a simple story line, really: Studio cables take out Ferguson, weight takes out Ferguson's replacement Holloway, McGregor takes out Chiesa with dolly, Chiesa's would-be opponent Pettis now in TITLE FIGHT.

Holloway was an injury replacement for Tony Ferguson. White told Okamoto last Sunday that Ferguson tore a knee ligament and would require surgery.

Because of the late notice, Holloway was facing a race against the clock in order to get ready for Saturday's fight. MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani spoke to a member of Holloway's camp who said the featherweight champion tried to make weight but that doctors "came up and just stopped it":

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

This from a member of Holloway’s team: “Max wants to keep pushing and is close but the doctors came up and just stopped it. Doctors stopped it not us. Max was going.”

Getting a title fight is a big upgrade for Pettis, who has lost five of his last seven fights. The 31-year-old will be a major underdog when he faces off with the unbeaten Nurmagomedov.

The upheaval to the UFC 223 card takes a lot of wind out of UFC's sails after White confirmed earlier this week Brock Lesnar may be on his way back to the Octagon.