White told ESPN that Ferguson will now lose his interim championship title, and the victor of the Nurmagomedov-Holloway fight will become the organization's lightweight champion. Nick Kalikas, who is a mixed martial arts oddsmaker, has opened Nurmagomedov as a -505 favorite, while Holloway is the +365 underdog.
Ferguson is out of the equation and loses his interim lightweight belt, a crushing blow for a man riding a 10-fight win streak.
"It would have been great to be ready for that fight and be ready to step in and save the day, but unfortunately, I am way, way too big to make the 155-pound limit on six days' notice".
Tony Ferguson was originally billed to take on Nurmagomedov in the headline fight, but has been forced to withdraw due to a torn knee ligament which he suffered during his pre-fight media obligations. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.
A distraught Ferguson added: "Words can't express how hurt, frustrated, angry and in disbelief I am right now".
The news initially broke overnight in England when it was still April 1st in the United States with reporter Ariel Helwani having to tell fans on Twitter that his news was not an April Fools joke.
The Notorious wrote: "These fools pull out more times than I do with my d**k".
Holloway will make his UFC debut at lightweight and attempt to become the second-ever dual-weight champion in UFC history.
The victor of Nurmagomedov vs Holloway is expected to be crowned the undisputed lightweight champion, a title now held by the AWOL Conor McGregor. I think about maybe like [Michael] Chiesa or [Paul] Felder, [Al] Iaquinta, [Anthony] Pettis, somebody because these guys fight with me on the same night.
The UFC rebooked the pair four months later at UFC on FOX 19, but on that occasion it was an injured Ferguson who was ruled out of the bout. "That being said, Holloway's finishing ability comes from wearing down his opponent, and to me, this is a stylistically bad matchup".