Rafael Dos Anjos has been ruled out of the title fight after suffering a broken leg
Conor McGregor's chances of going one step closer to holding three world titles in three different UFC weight grades has been thrown into disarray and time is running out for the association to find a replacement opponent.
Rafael Dos Anjos has been forced to withdraw from the fight after breaking his leg in a freak accident at training.
Just to clarify, RDA's injury was a freak accident that occurred while sparring, he kicked, partner checked and fractured fifth metatarsal.— Nick Curson (@SpeedofSport) February 23, 2016
Speaking to Colm Parkinson on Off The Ball, Ariel Helwani lamented the lost opportunity to witness a potentially historic event at UFC 196, while also pointing out an important statistic about McGregor's fight history at UFC level.
''This is McGregor's eight fight in the UFC and this will be the fourth time there's been a change of opponent. The UFC are hoping to find a replacement but they can't replicate history here. They can't duplicate that so you have to feel sorry for Conor and Rafael's never had a payday like this so this is heartbreaking for him.''
Rafael dos Anjos has pulled out of his fight with Conor McGregor at UFC 196. We have 2 big names who could fill in.https://t.co/7J0KMpCsQV— AtTheBuzzer (@TheBuzzerOnFOX) February 23, 2016
Shocked by the news about RDA's injury, Parkinson questioned his decision to engage in such an intensely physical training regime within two weeks of his title defence. Helwani explained that this attitude to fight preparation is common among MMA fighters, largely due to the fact that the sport is still in its infancy.
''Fighters are using every single part of their body. It's a strenuous workout and as the sport evolves, I feel we are like in the 1930's era of pro-baseball. We're gonna look back at this in 50 years time and think, 'wow I can't believe things were done this way.''
''We're still a young sport and fighters are still looking learning how to prepare properly.''
Remarking on the candidate most likely to step in for Rafael Dos Anjos, Helwani noted that an interim fight is not an option due to the fact that RDA defended his belt just last December.
He insisted however, that the UFC have options for a substitute fighter while also stressing the need to have the selection confirmed before a media event takes place in Los Angeles tomorrow.
''This is the brilliance of Conor McGregor. Conor has a personal issue with (Donald) Cerrone, Frankie Edgar and (Nate) Diaz. He's always got two or three fights in advance which is what makes him so brilliant. Time is of the essence and I wouldn't be surprised if something was announced today so that they can sell the fight.''