Holloway, the reigning UFC featherweight champion, stepped in as a late replacement for interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, accepting the fight on just six days’ notice.
The 26-year-old hoped to become just the second fighter after Conor McGregor to hold titles in two divisions simultaneously, but was unable to safely cut weight ahead of his scheduled bout.
“Khabib my brother I want to keep going but they are stopping me,” Holloway tweeted on Friday afternoon. “Sorry to your team and the fans. You don’t deserve this. This is number one. Shout outs to you and Anthony Pettis. Give the fans what they deserve.”
“Max wants to keep pushing and is close but the doctors came up and just stopped it,” a member of his team told MMA Fighting. “Doctors stopped it not us. Max was going.”
Holloway’s withdrawal means UFC 223 – the promotion’s biggest event of 2018 – is now down to just nine fights, after a backstage melee involving McGregor saw three bouts scrapped on Thursday night.
Video footage appears to show the promotion's most bankable star throwing a hand truck at a bus full of fighters after a Thursday news conference for UFC 223 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
The New York Police Department says McGregor was charged and awaiting a court appearance Friday, facing three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief.
UFC President Dana White said Friday he spoke to McGregor via text and the brawler said the confrontation was something that “had to be done.”
“It was probably the worst conversation we ever had,” White told FS1's "First Things First" on Friday morning. “We talked yesterday before he turned himself in.
“It's not that I don't think he understood what happened. He justified it. It was justified to him.”
Both Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg were injured by smashed glass in the incident – resulting in both of their fights being scrapped – while the UFC pulled Artem Lobov from the card due to his role in the altercation.