How Khamzat Chimaev and Conor McGregor’s Unexpected Issues Have Forced UFC to Change Scheduled Cards

How Khamzat Chimaev and Conor McGregor’s Unexpected Issues Have Forced UFC to Change Scheduled Cards

Byron Pillay
June 16, 2024 at 9:43 PM
  • Khamzat Chimaev was scheduled to take on Robert Whittaker to earn a shot the the UFC's Middleweight title
  • Conor McGregor suffered an undisclosed injury while preparing for his return to the Octagon against Mike Chandler
  • Alex Pereira will face off against Jiří Procházka for the Light Heavyweight title in the new main event of UFC 303

Everything can change very quickly in the UFC.

While fights are planned in advance and hype is built for the events, circumstances beyond anyone’s control sometimes force the organisation to adapt.

Khamzat Chimaev and Conor McGregor have both been forced to pull out of upcoming events.
The UFC have been forced to edit two of their upcoming big fight cards after Khamzat Chimaev and Conor McGregor both pulled out of their scheduled bouts. Image: Jeff Bottari/ Edward Berthelot.
Source: Getty Images

That’s the case this year as two of the UFC’s biggest planned fights have been cancelled, and the organisation has had to switch up its plans.

Sports Brief looks at what fights were cancelled and who has been brought in to save the upcoming events.

UFC fights changed after forced cancellations

Khamzat Chimaev vs Robert Whittaker

The two middleweights were scheduled to meet in the main event of the UFC’s first-ever card in Saudi Arabia.

Sadly, nine days before their five-round fight, Chimaev was forced to pull out of the upcoming clash after becoming ‘violently ill.’

Chimaev, who is undefeated in his career, was set to face The Reaper for a chance to challenge for the Middleweight title.

Who Whittaker will face next

The Australian will remain in the main event but will get a new challenger.

The former champion will now take on Ikram Aliskerov, a Russian MMA fighter who is not even ranked in the top 10 of the division.

As noted by Sherdog, Whittaker said that he hadn’t even heard of his opponent before he was announced as Chimaev’s replacement.

“I had a pretty Chimaev-ready game plan. “Chimaev’s a pretty unique fighter, and he fights a unique way. So I had a game plan I’d worked for months leading into that. But Ikram brings a different threat to the table. I hadn’t heard of him or seen him fight before that,” he said.

Conor McGregor vs Michael Chandler

One of the most eagerly anticipated fights this year was scheduled for the main event of UFC 303.

McGregor was going to make his long-awaited return to the Octagon to take on the former Bellator champion.

The fight has since been postponed after the Irishman picked up an undisclosed injury. He took to social media to provide more information about the situation, saying that he was confident he would be back.

What’s the new main event?

Unlike the Whittaker situation, Chandler won’t have a new opponent.

Instead, the main event of UFC 303 will not be a Light Heavyweight title fight.

The UFC confirmed that Alex Pereira will defend his title against former champion, Jiří Procházka. The duo originally fought in November 2023 for the then-vacant title, a match Poatan won in two rounds.

Byron Pillay photo
Byron Pillay
Byron Pillay is a sports writer and Head of the Department at Sports Brief (joined in 2022) with over 10 years of experience in community journalism and a degree in journalism from Caxton's Cadet School.