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Dana White: Tony Ferguson turned down interim lightweight title fight vs. Max Holloway

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Dana White explains why UFC lightweight contender Tony Ferguson is not fighting for an interim title.

MMA: UFC 229-Ferguson vs Pettis Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The big news on Friday night from the UFC was confirmation that featherweight champion Max Holloway will move up to lightweight to challenge Dustin Poirier for the interim title in the UFC 236 main event. For fans wondering why Tony Ferguson isn’t involved despite being the #1 contender, it appears as if Ferguson had no interest in being in another interim championship.

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was told by UFC president Dana White that it was actually Ferguson who was offered the fight against Holloway, but turned it down. This may fall in line with a recent tweet from Ferguson which seemed to imply he wasn’t happy with the financial terms of the matchup.

Ferguson (24-3) hasn’t fought since a TKO win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 229 last October. He’s won eleven straight bouts, including an interim title win over Kevin Lee at UFC 216, but he was stripped of the belt after suffering a freak injury in the lead-up to his title showdown with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223. It was Holloway who replaced Ferguson at UFC 223, only to be pulled from the event for Al Iaquinta after Holloway’s unsuccessful weight cut down to 155 lbs.

As it were, Poirier gets the interim title shot instead, while Holloway aims to become a champ-interim champ. With Khabib Nurmagomedov not expected to return until November, well after his UFC 229 post-fight brawl suspension is up, an interim title seemed likely for this division.

UFC 236 will have interim titles in the main and co-main event, as Kelvin Gastlum and Israel Adesanya will compete for the interim middleweight belt, while Robert Whittaker recovers from hernia surgery.