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Conor McGregor's dream of becoming a two-weight world champion is on hold, at least briefly. Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos suffered a broken foot in training last week and is out of UFC 196, set for March 5 in Las Vegas.
UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports Tuesday that McGregor will remain in the main event and that he is working on a replacement for dos Anjos. White said the fight will be at 155 pounds but that he is not sure whether or not it will be for an interim championship. The women's bantamweight title fight between Holly Holm and Miesha Tate will remain the co-main event, White said.
Ali Abdelaziz, dos Anjos' manager, said the injury occurred during sparring on Friday.
"He threw a kick and the guy he was sparring with checked the kick," Abdelaziz told Yahoo Sports. "It hurt a little, but he continued to spar. After that, it began swelling badly and I called the UFC. They sent him to a doctor who said it's broken."
Dos Anjos will be sidelined for six weeks.
Abdelaziz said dos Anjos wanted to fight despite the injury and said he asked if he could take a pain-killing shot in order to be able to compete. Manny Pacquiao tried the same thing before his bout with Floyd Mayweather last year to help him with an injured shoulder, but he didn't request permission from the Nevada Athletic Commission until the night of the fight and was denied.
UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said he didn't want to go in that direction, Abdelaziz said.
White, though, vehemently disputed that. He said that dos Anjos said he wanted to fight while he was on the way to the hospital, but that he changed his mind once he found out his foot was broken.
White said the UFC offered the fight to Frankie Edgar and that Edgar turned it down, citing an injury. White said that ex-featherweight champion Jose Aldo also turned down the bout when offered.
"When we told Conor, he said, 'Come on! This [expletive] guy! Oh my God! He's pulling out?' " White said. "But when we went through the options, he said he'd fight any of them.
"I swear to God, he said, 'I'll fight anyone.' He just doesn't give a [expletive]. People talk about this strained relationship between us and Conor, and he has a different style than I've ever seen, but I have never seen anyone like Conor. The closest was Chuck Liddell, but we've never had one like Conor. You think he's not hurt? But when he says he's going to fight, he's going to fight no matter what."
McGregor defeated Aldo in 13 seconds in December at UFC 194 to win the featherweight championship. His goal was to hold and defend belts simultaneously in two divisions and so he sought out a bout with dos Anjos.
His plan, if he were successful in defeating dos Anjos, was to defend his featherweight title against Edgar at UFC 200.
McGregor arrived in Los Angeles on Monday from his native Dublin.
Abdelaziz manages two other fighters, Edgar and featherweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, who could be possible opponents for McGregor. He said Edgar is injured and can't fight, while Nurmagomedov offered his services. He's currently scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson in April.
The UFC declined that offer, Abdelaziz said.
"He hasn't fought in two years," Abdelaziz said of Nurmagomedov.
White became angry and said Nurmagomedov was not discussed.
"Ali is so full of [expletive]," White said. "What are we going to do, Khabib hasn't fought in two years and we're going to bring him in to save the show? Besides, Khabib has a fight and we gave that to Fox. It's amazing, to be honest with you. All of these managers are out there jockeying and they say they want to fight Conor. You hear these guys screaming, 'Conor, Conor, Conor,' but then when it comes time to take a fight, they turn it down and they're hurt."
Several fighters are publicly campaigning for the fight. Donald Cerrone, who won in the first round on Sunday in Pittsburgh, has offered to take the fight, as has ex-lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.