UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has issued a statement, after the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced him to withdraw from his title fight with Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 this month.
Despite having no final location in place for the event, UFC president Dana White has ensured he has “four or five locations” in mind for the card—and it will go ahead on April 18th, despite the current global outbreak of the coronavirus. News circulated earlier this week that a Russian travel ban could stop Khabib from leaving the country to fight at UFC 249. And now, in a recent Instagram post, the lightweight champ seems like he’s ready to clear up any uncertainty about whether or not he’ll be participating in UFC 249.
“Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight,” Khabib wrote on social media. “It turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine, governments of all countries, famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements in order to limit the spread of the disease, to save people, and Khabib is the only one relieved of all obligations and must demonstrate free will and train flying around the world, for the sake of fight?”
This now marks the fifth time a fight between Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Ferguson (25-3) has been cancelled. The likes of Jorge Masvidal and former UFC lightweight title challenger Dustin Poirier have offered to step in to fight Ferguson at UFC 249, and there are reports of the UFC attempting to book Ferguson against Justin Gaethje as well. Or, perhaps, the promotion will pull “El Cucuy” from the card entirely and try and reschedule the fight with Khabib for another event. At this point, it’s hard to be certain that UFC 249 will even go forward at all.
“I understand everything and I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others,” Khabib continued. “I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control it all. The greatest countries and the largest companies of our time are shocked by what is happening, every day the situation changes unpredictably. But Khabib still has to fight, is that what you’re saying? Take care of yourself and put yourself in my shoes.”
Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and notes as the date of UFC 249 approaches and the UFC continues to look for answers to a problem that is far beyond the promotion’s control.