Headliners all sizzle, no steak at UFC 209

LAS VEGAS • Dana White, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president, has termed the cancellation of Khabib Nurmagomedov's mixed martial arts title bout with Tony Ferguson at UFC 209, one of the most anticipated fights of the year, as "a huge blow".

UFC issued a statement to say that Saturday's co-main event in Las Vegas had been "cancelled on the doctor's recommendation", after the Russian was hospitalised with "weight management issues".

It represents the third time a match-up between the two has been called off.

According to the UFC statement, Nurmagomedov was treated and discharged, but failed to appear at Friday's official early weigh-ins. The American came in at 70kg.

White said Nurmagomedov's team failed to go through the proper channels.

"Basically, his team had decided to take him to just some random hospital here in Las Vegas instead of picking up the phone and calling our doctor and calling Brianna (Mattison), who runs all the medicals," he said.

Shortly after the announcement, Ferguson tweeted: "I hope you feel better Khabib. I pray for your recovery. I mean it: get better."

It was not yet confirmed whether the fight will be rebooked at a later date.

In the main event on Saturday, Tyron Woodley beat Stephen Thompson to retain his welterweight championship.

The two men were meeting for the second time, after battling to a draw at UFC 205 in New York.

The rematch was more cagey and Woodley claimed the win by a majority decision.

"I thought I was going to finish him, but in the end I got the victory," he said.

"Nothing was surprising."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'Headliners all sizzle, no steak at UFC 209'. Print Edition | Subscribe