Against all odds, Dana White continues to insist that the UFC Lightweight Title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 is going to happen. We are just a few weeks until the event on April 18 and no venue has been announced. There may be more complicated matters at hand now.
All over the world, there are travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus. The United States has banned all travel into and out of the country. In Russia, Khabib’s (28-0) home country, they have banned all cross-border travel. The only people allowed to do so are diplomats or members of official delegations. Recently, Khabib returned to Russia to train following all gyms in America shutting down.
That resulted with Ferguson posting the following on social media:
“April 18 Is Getting Close @TeamKhabib & You’re Hiding In Russia. Travel Bans Will Not Prevent Me From Whoopin’ That Ass. Don’t Use It As An Excuse To Back Out. You Have Been Sent Many Locations, Send Us 1. Still My Bitch #DefendorVacate MF-CSO- #ufc249 @ufc @danawhite”
April 18 Is Getting Close @TeamKhabib & You’re Hiding In Russia. Travel Bans Will Not Prevent Me From Whoopin’ That Ass. Don’t Use It As An Excuse To Back Out. You Have Been Sent Many Locations, Send Us 1. Still My Bitch #DefendorVacate MF ⚾️ -CSO- 🇺🇸🏆🇲🇽 #ufc249 @ufc @danawhite pic.twitter.com/TVQH4mnG2e
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) March 30, 2020
For what it is worth, Khabib went on Instagram Live to talk about recent events. The UFC Lightweight Champion stated that he is locked in Russia as a result of restrictions. American Kickboxing Academy is not available for him, resulting in a lack of resources. He also stated that UFC 249 may be going on without him.
“After talking to the UFC we decided to fly over to the Emirates a month before the fight,” Khabib stated, via RT.com. “I don’t remember the exact date, it was 19th or 20th, I’ll have to check. But when we landed in Emirates we learned that they are going to close borders. And no one will be able to leave or fly in, with exception for residents.
“So we had to fly back to Russia. Currently I am in Dagestan and I am training and preparing every day. Although I don’t know what am I preparing for. Because after we came to Russia we also learned that the borders are going to be locked. Same like in the States, same like in Europe, Emirates, everywhere. The whole world is in quarantine right now.”
UFC 249 was rumored for Dubai, with Khabib’s dad also offering the United Arab Emirates as an option. With Ramadan fast approaching, the idea of Khabib competing with these conditions appear impossible. This would be the fifth time the fight between Khabib and Ferguson would not be takin place as planned.
“So now I am hearing that they are looking to organize it with or without me. OK, go ahead,” Khabib went on to say. I am even hearing that they are looking for an opponent for Tony, because he is in the States and I am here in Russia. But I am here not on my own will. The UFC told me that this fight 100% isn’t happening in the USA, and even if it’s not happening in the Emirates it will happen on this side of Atlantic. We discussed everything with the UFC. By that time I already spent 5 weeks of hard training in the AKA.”
UFC 249 was set to take place inside the Barclays Center. Dana White tried to move things around after the New York Athletic Commission assured that the event wouldn’t take place. The Nevada Athletic Commission halted all combat sports from taking place in the area, which includes the UFC’s APEX Center.
Dana has about five locations in mind for UFC 249. If Khabib is unable to compete, could the UFC find a replacement opponent for Ferguson? If not, and the event was to still happen, the previously planned Francis Ngannou v. Jairzinho Rozenstruik could be the main event.