In what seems like an all too familiar story, a proposed matchup between lightweights Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson has yet again fallen apart.

The news was reported by MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, and confirmed by UFC president Dana White. They reported that Ferguson suffered a knee ligament injury several days ago, and was forced to pull out from their UFC 223 [VIDEO] bout, scheduled to take place on April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

This is the fourth time the two have been scheduled to fight, Ferguson having pulled out once before and Nurmagomedov [VIDEO] twice. Their most recent scheduling was at UFC 209 in March 2017, where the Dagestani was forced to pull out the day before the fight due to weight cutting complications.

The champ steps in

Saving the fight card is featherweight champion Max Holloway. The Hawaiian native, owner of a 19-3 professional record, steps in on less than a week’s notice to fight for the lightweight belt. Holloway looks to become only the second fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously, repeating the feat achieved by Conor McGregor when he held both the lightweight and featherweight titles.

Holloway had been scheduled to defend his 145 lbs title against Frankie Edgar last month at UFC 222, however, he was forced to pull out of that fight due to an ankle injury. Holloway has often expressed his willingness to fight “anyone, anytime," and he backed that up by agreeing to move up a weight class on short notice to fight the undefeated Nurmagomedov.

New champ at 155

The undisputed lightweight title will be on the line for the winner of this fight, despite the late-notice changes.

As was arranged previously, once this fight begins, reigning champion Conor McGregor will have his belt stripped, and it will be awarded to the winner. The status of Tony Ferguson’s interim lightweight belt, won in October in his submission win over Kevin Lee, is unclear at this stage.

The winner of this fight sets up a potential matchup with McGregor, who has been inactive in MMA since winning the title in November 2016. Khabib, 25-0 as a professional, has long expressed his desire to fight McGregor to prove himself as the #1 lightweight fighter in the world. The UFC has an event scheduled in Khabib’s native Russia in September, and he will likely lobby to fight McGregor at this event, should he win the belt.

Holloway too has a long history with McGregor, which he believes is unfinished business. Holloway’s most recent professional loss was to McGregor, in a featherweight contest in 2013. Since then, Holloway has won 12 fights in a row, capping his run by winning and defending the belt in two fights against all-time great Jose Aldo.

Holloway wants revenge for that loss, and may get that opportunity with a win over Nurmagomedov.

Ferguson too will be campaigning for a title shot when he is fully healthy. The current interim lightweight champ has won 10 fights in a row, and is widely considered the best lightweight fighter in the world. However, it’s likely that he will have to get back in line behind McGregor, who is the biggest star and #1 money fighter in the UFC today.