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Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone has a new opponent for UFC 187

A replacement for the injured Khabib Nurmagomedov has been drafted in for 23 May.

John Makdessi (right) will fight Donald Cerrone at UFC 187.
John Makdessi (right) will fight Donald Cerrone at UFC 187.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 09.42

SCHEDULED TO TAKE place on 23 May at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, UFC 187 looked set to be the most stacked mixed martial arts event of 2015.

However, the outlook changed drastically this week. On Tuesday, headliner Jon Jones was stripped of his light-heavyweight title and suspended by the Ultimate Fighting Championship following his arrest due to suspected involvement in a hit-and-run incident.

And yesterday, popular Dagestani lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov was ruled out of his bout against Donald Cerrone due to a knee injury. According to UFC Tonight, surgery on a torn meniscus will keep Nurmagomedov sidelined for four-to-six months.

Although there are two world title bouts — Anthony Johnson versus Daniel Cormier (who replaced Jones) and Chris Weidman versus Vitor Belfort — topping the bill, the fight between Nurmagomedov and Cerrone was one of the most eagerly-anticipated of the year.

The unbeaten Nurmagomedov, who defeated current lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos last time out in April 2014, also withdrew from a scheduled bout with Cerrone back in September.

UFC officials have been quick to find a replacement opponent for Cerrone, however, with 29-year-old Canadian John Makdessi stepping in to fill the void. Makdessi will be aiming for back-to-back UFC victories, having returned to winning ways just last weekend with a first-round TKO of Shane Campbell at UFC 186.

When asked about his new opponent by MMAjunkie.com, Cerrone — who’s become renowned for stepping in at short notice himself — said: “I’m excited that the guy stepped up. He kind of took a page out of my book and this is a huge opportunity for him. I think it’s going to be a great fight.”

– First published on 30 April at 10.59

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Paul Dollery

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