UFC 249 might be canceled, and the fans won’t be able to see the long-craved contest between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
This is going to be the fifth time that Khabib vs. Ferguson clash needs to be dropped. The reactions all across the world are very negative, although nothing is officially confirmed yet.
The reason for cancellation is Nurmagomedov’s situation back home in Russia. The undefeated champion is in his native Dagestan, where he had to come after being manipulated by the UFC (that is according to his words).
Khabib revealed during the Instagram chat this morning that he left the United States, after hearing that the event won’t take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and that the probable venue might be in the United Arab Emirates. He was preparing with the American Kickboxing Academy for a while and wanted to adjust to the environment, which is why he made a base in San Jose.
“The UFC told us that the fight 100 percent isn’t happening in the States. And they said that 99 percent that it will happen in (the United Arab) Emirates — Abu Dhabi.”
Due to this, he and his team went to Emirates, but after getting there, they heard unexpected news. The rich Middle East country was about to close its borders and forbid any entrances except for its citizens.
“But when we landed in Emirates, we learned that they are going to close (the) borders, and no one will be able to leave or fly in with (the) exception of residents.”
Because of all this, Khabib and his team had to fly back to Russia; otherwise, they would be stuck in UAE. The Russian has been training for so long, and it appears that he has lost his patience with everything going on around him and the entire UFC 249. He is aware of the problems but is suggesting that he didn’t do anything on his own. Instead, he simply followed the instructions given by the organization.
What is the biggest problem which would ultimately prevent him from leaving his country is the fact that the Russian government intends to close its borders. It is a measure Russia wants to impose to restrain the COVID-19 pandemic on its soil. All the suggestions that he did this on purpose are a bit annoying to Khabib.
According to the champion, the UFC already started searching for his replacement. The champ is aware of that but is not angry, as he understands the entire situation and the position of his colleagues.
“So now I am hearing that they are looking to organize it with or without me. OK, go ahead,” he said. “I am not against it. I know that fighters need to feed their families and pay their bills.”
With Khabib Nurmagomedov unable to leave Russia due to travel restrictions, Tony Ferguson has been offered a fight at UFC 249 against top contender Justin Gaethje, sources tell @arielhelwani. pic.twitter.com/et4xH2CxrL
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 30, 2020
The first on the list to replace Nurmagomedov is Justin Gaethje, to whom allegedly Ferguson already offered a chance to jump in instead of Khabib. Meanwhile, sources are saying that Dustin Poirier also received an offer to meet Ferguson.
The UFC is determined to have this event, and Dana White won’t back out from his intention. There is a lot of money involved, and also the UFC reputation is at stake. If the organization goes on as planned, and they make the event successfully, that would no doubt improve the global status of the UFC. It would be the only sports contest that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another option was to change the headliner, and some sources implied that the UFC tried to book Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. The Gamebred even stated on his Twitter account that he hasn’t got other plans on April 18. Others had a story about seeing Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik in action.
All these stories are still just speculations without official confirmation.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.