White: ‘I Take Responsibility’ For Khabib Missing UFC 249
Back in April, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson were supposed to face off for the former’s UFC Lightweight Title. The fifth time the two were supposed to fight, the coronavirus pandemic changed all of that. Now, Ferguson will be fighting Justin Gaethje on May 9 for the interim UFC Lightweight Title.
Nurmagomedov, (28-0) who was told he would be fighting the winner of the UFC 249 main event sometime this summer (July rumored), has been receiving flack for not showing up to fight. One of the reasons why he did that was due to gyms across the United States closing down and a lack of location for the original UFC 249. He decided to stay in Russia to quarantine, where there are travel limitations.
Ferguson (25-3) believes Khabib should be stripped of the title for “bailing out” on the event. UFC President Dana White, however, does not agree. In an interview with BT Sport, White stood up for the champion, stating that there were plenty of people at fault, himself included.
“I’m sure you saw today, Khabib posted, ‘Hey, as soon as Ramadan is over, I’m ready to roll,’” White stated, via MMA Fighting. “There was a lot of questioning Khabib, people were saying ‘Oh he got trapped in Russia’ or whatever; what he said is absolutely true. None of us saw coming what happened and how fast it was rapidly changing and the world was literally changing by the day. We all made some bad decisions that got him stuck in Moscow. It wasn’t just him, we all did. I take responsibility for that too.
“It happened, and you know what we get out of that? We get Gaethje versus Ferguson, which is gonna be absolutely ridiculous.”
The UFC is currently holding events in Florida without fans and hopes to reunite with the APEX Center in Nevada. White is also looking at “Fight Island” as a future location. Adamant that he would be the first sport back, it is looking like White will be true to his word. If UFC 249 and other events go off without a hitch in regards to testing, White will hope others will follow his lead.
“I would imagine that live sports are watching us right now saying, ‘Let’s see how this thing plays out for them and maybe we’ll take some risks,’” White said. “Nobody ever wants to take risks. Nobody really wants to be first. Nobody wants to assume the responsibility of being first. My team, my athletes, we’re built for this sh*t.”
UFC 249 will be taking place inside the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.