Khabib Defends Decision To Not Fight At UFC 249
Ever since announcing he was out of his UFC 249 fight with Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov has received an abnormal amount of backlash within the MMA community. The UFC Lightweight Champion is looking to dispel any rumors of self-sabotaging the event.
On an Instagram Live session, Khabib (28-0) discussed his decision to stay in Russia to quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the reasons why he did that was a result of gyms across the United States closing down for safety precautions. The notion of restricted travel from Russia and the United States was a premier topic as the event was getting closer.
One of the main factors, however, was the fact that there is no location for the event on April 18.
“Nobody knows location, but everyone wants me to fly somewhere,” Khabib stated, via MMA Junkie. “I don’t understand this. UFC tried to find a location (almost one month ago); they don’t find. What about me? This is my mistake? UFC don’t send us location. Where (are) we going to fight? I don’t have location; that’s why I’m not going to fight.”
The UFC has attempted to book the fight anywhere they could. The Nevada, New York and California Athletic Commissions have all barred combat sports from taking place, while several other states have ensured that fights were not going to happen. Florida appeared to be the premier spot until Governor DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order. With no location to send, Khabib decided it was to look out for his best interest.
At one point, Abu Dhabi was considered a location for UFC 249. Khabib detailed his journey to where he stands today.
“We left San Jose. We landed in Dubai. We landed 8 p.m. at night,” Khabib went on to say. “They say (at) 12 a.m. they close (the) gate. We tried to go in, but this is impossible. They say this is impossible. Then I say, ‘OK, whatever happens we’re going to go to Dagestan and keep training.’ After Dubai, we come to Dagestan and keep training. Right now I finish my training. Every day I’m training, and I’m waiting for location, but they don’t send me.”
Since his announcement, there has been a debate whether Khabib should be praised or criticized for his decision. Ferguson called for Khabib to be stripped of his title, saying he bailed out of the fight. The fight five years in the making added another wrinkle to its already complicated timeline. Conor McGregor, who Khabib has had issues with in the past, believes Khabib chickened out.
“My name is Khabib. I am not coronavirus,” Khabib continued. “My name is not coronavirus. Dana is Dana. Tony Ferguson is Tony Ferguson. My name is Khabib, but No. 1 thing what make me crazy is people say I pull out, or I do something. I don’t understand this. I’m still training since December, I train very hard since December. I (came) to U.S. because UFC (gave) me location, New York. I come to U.S. I’m training 40 days. Then when everything (went) crazy they say, U.S. 100 percent no fight.
As far as when he would like to fight, Khabib is waiting out the situation regarding the coronavirus. He is hoping to fight after Ramadan. Willing to fight whoever, the Lightweight Champion just wants everything to return to normal so there is no rushing to get a fight done.
If the UFC does have a specific location in mind for UFC 249, however, and the timing is right, we could very well see Khabib in an octagon sooner rather than later. This is according to an interview he did with ESPN.
"Right now, if they give me location, if I can come out from Russia… I'm going to fight. One hundred percent. Just give me location."
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 2, 2020