UFC star moves up a division to pursue Nurmagomedov
CHANGES are coming.
UFC featherweight king Max Holloway will reportedly go up to 155 pounds to fight Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title while current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov serves out his suspension.
According to ESPN's Brett Okamoto, UFC president Dana White confirmed the showdown would headline UFC 236 on April 13 (April 14 AEDT) in Atlanta - the same card that features an interim bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum in the middleweight division.
Nurmagomedov, serving a nine-month suspension after the UFC 229 brawl in October of last year, had the opportunity to film an anti-bullying message and return as early as April.
But the Dagestani brawler refused and White and co were somewhat forced to keep the lightweight division moving forward.
Okamoto added: "According to White, Tony Ferguson was offered the interim lightweight title fight against Holloway, but he turned it down."
It leaves Ferguson - who is the No. 1 contender - in a weird spot, with the winner of this interim match-up set to face Nurmagomedov in a title unification bout closer to the end of the year.
The Holloway-Poirier fight will actually be a rematch. On Holloway's debut back in 2012 at UFC 143, Poirier claimed a submission win.
But this is a different Holloway - now a 27-year-old champion riding a 13-fight win streak, including a dominant title defence at the end of 2018 against a previously undefeated Brian Ortega.
The No.3 ranked lightweight contender, Poirier, who holds a five-fight win streak of his own, was set to fight Nate Diaz last year before that match-up fell apart. He is now set to headline a UFC pay-per-view card for the first time in his career.
Holloway is reportedly set to keep his 145-pound belt, for now, as he makes the move up.