Who will be the next Conor McGregor? Can Joanna Jedrzejczyk win back her title? These are the big questions…
UFC 223, Sunday 7 April, 3am, BT Sport 2/HD CH 532/528)
If you know your mixed martial arts, you’ll already know that UFC 223 has had its fair share of drama – and the bell hasn’t even rung yet! With one of its headline fighters dropping out only six days before the event, it means that Saturday night (well, Sunday morning for UK viewers!) at the Barclays Arena in New York is going to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable cards of the year.
If you don’t know, now’s your chance to get involved, get excited and stay up with us into the wee hours of Sunday morning to watch it all unfold.
On Sunday 1 April, UFC president Dana White announced that Tony Ferguson – who was due to face Russian contender Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight championship – would not be fighting in the main event. No, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.
It was the fourth time a fight between these two had been cancelled – and what was the reason? Ferguson reportedly tore a ligament in his knee when turning to greet someone in a hallway. Apparently, he didn’t expect to see them, turned sharply and tripped over. We’ve all been there, right?
So with just six days’ notice, who would be the one to take Ferguson’s place? It’s current featherweight champion Max Holloway! The Hawaiian, who’s the #6 ranked UFC pound-for-pound fighter, is enjoying a 12-fight winning streak at the moment, having remained undefeated since he lost on points to Conor McGregor back in 2013 – and now he’ll be stepping up to take on Khabib for McGregor’s lightweight championship belt.
If Holloway wins, not only will he be just the second fighter ever to hold two titles simultaneously, but at 26 he’ll also be the youngest to achieve the feat. It’s such an enticing prospect that we’ve almost forgotten how long we’ve been waiting to see Ferguson and Khabib square off. Never mind, eh?
Get to know the two fighters
Record: 19 – 3 – 0
Height: 5ft 11in
Record: 25 – 0 – 0
Height: 5ft 10in
But that’s not the only highly anticipated bout on the card. The rematch between Rose Namajunas (below left) and former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (below right) for the women’s strawweight championship is likely to bring more fireworks than New Year’s Eve in Sydney Harbour.
Back at UFC 217 last November, Najamunas surprised us all, not least the Polish fighter who’s so successful she’s known as “Joanna Champion”. Not only did the Milwaukee martial artist take Joanna’s belt, she also smashed her undefeated record with a first-round knockout. Until then, Joanna was ranked the number one pound-for-pound female fighter on the planet. Will she be out for revenge? Oh, that doesn’t sound like her at all…
Get to know the two fighters
Record: 7 – 3 – 0
Height: 5ft 5in
Record: 14 – 1 – 0
Height: 5ft 6in
One roof-raising rematch. One undisputed title fight. Two belts on the line. It’s going to be one helluva night. With a main card that also features Renato Moicano v Calvin Kattar, Michael Chiesa v Anthony Pettis and Al Iaquinta v Paul Felder, UFC 223 is well worth losing sleep over!
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