The UFC’s plans to stage the upcoming lightweight title appear to be in jeopardy as champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is currently stranded in Dagestan. Khabib was due to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
The event had been scheduled to take place at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn New York on April 18th. However, the coronavirus outbreak has forced plans to change.
UFC President Dana White has been adamant that the fight, which has fallen through on four separate occasions over the years, will go ahead even if it is behind closed doors.
White had outlined that he had four or five locations in mind. Yet, it now appears as though the fight may not happen as Khabib is currently stranded in Russia and unable to fly out due to a travel ban instituted by his home country.
“We were training in the AKA without any information regarding the fight, where and how is it going to happen,” Nurmagomedov said (courtesy of RT Sport).
“Then the UFC told us that the fight 100% isn’t happening in the States. And they said that 99% that it will happen in Emirates, Abu Dhabi.
”After talking to the UFC we decided to fly over to the Emirates a month before the fight. 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.”
Khabib continued outlining that he has heard the event will go on even if he is able to make it or not and that the UFC are currently working on a new opponent for Ferguson which, according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, is Justin Gaethje.
”So now I am hearing that they are looking to organize it with or without me. OK, go ahead,” Khabib said.
“Everyone should follow the laws. I am not against it, I know that fighters need to feed their families and pay their bills. I know how hard it is for the fighter. Unless they fight they aren’t getting any money.
“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.
“Now I don’t really know what’s going on. It’s really hard to train and cut your weight when the whole world is locked down and you don’t know what you are preparing for. But it’s not the first time I face obstacles in my career.”