Western Courier

New lightweight champ to be crowned

Connor+McGregor+grabs+the+mic+in+UFC+press+conference.
Connor McGregor grabs the mic in UFC press conference.

Connor McGregor grabs the mic in UFC press conference.

WIKIMEDIA.COM

WIKIMEDIA.COM

Connor McGregor grabs the mic in UFC press conference.

Brie Coder, Courier Staff

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If you’re a combat sports fan,then this weekend is like your Super Bowl. Saturday night begins the festivities with Cody Rhodes versus Kenny Omega for the leadership of the Bullet Club through the Supercard pay-per-view, and WWE’s NXT Takeover: New Orleans. Then Sunday night starting at 6 p.m. is “The Ultimate Thrill Ride” known as WrestleMania 34. There is one big fight that is happening in the middle of all this excitement, and it just so happens to be UFC 223.

This Saturday, in Brooklyn, New York, a new UFC lightweight champion will be crowned. However, getting to this matchup has had its setbacks. Originally the lightweight championship match was supposed to be Tony Ferguson versus Khabib Nurmagomedov. When this match was announced three years ago, multiple factors interfered, causing several postponements for Ferguson and Nurmagomedov’s fight. Their matchup is the modern day “Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

Just when they thought the curse was lifted, UFC president Dana White decided it was safe to say that the two men would be able to meet up against one another and finally compete this Saturday. Unfortunately, bad news would follow not too long after, with Ferguson announcing that he tore his LCL during a press conference for this match, and will need surgery before returning to the octagon ring.

So much frustration followed and White couldn’t postpone this matchup anymore. He announced to multiple sport sources that the fight is still on, but they’re going to make the stakes higher and bring in UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway. Holloway is currently 19-3, and the sixth highest UFC fighter in the featherweight and lightweight divisions. He has held the featherweight belt since June of 2017.

Nurmagomedov is one man you do not want to mess with. He is a two- time Combat Sambo World Champion, a freestyle wrestling champion and a Judo black belt. Not only is that impressive, he also currently holds one of the longest undefeated streaks in MMA with 25 wins and no losses. The Eagle fears no one, and plans to wear Conor McGregor’s former belt in glory.

Now you may be asking yourself, wait isn’t McGregor the current lightweight champion? He is, but not for long. Since McGregor hasn’t defended his title in two years, White will be stripping him of his title and crowning the new winner of Saturday’s match with it.

“As soon as one punch is thrown, it’s on for the full title, and it’s only fair,” White said to the Los Angeles Times.

This will be the second time that McGregor has been stripped from a title, without a single defense. McGregor won the lightweight championship belt back in 2016 at UFC 205 against Eddie Alvarez. Die hard fans of McGregor’s’ are quite upset with this outcome, but the Irishman plans to come back and fight sometime in September.

I’m usually good at predicting who will come out the winner, but for this match I’m split down the middle. If Holloway wins, he’ll be the second man in UFC history to hold onto two belts at the same time (the first was McGregor). However, Nurmagomedov hasn’t held a title just yet and is quite deserving of that opportunity. No matter the outcome, both fighters will be giving a performance of a lifetime, and finally fans and White can take a sigh of relief and know that this match is finally on.

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New lightweight champ to be crowned