Khabib Nurmagomedov faced a tidal wave of criticism after pulling out of UFC 249, but UFC president Dana White says the undefeated lightweight champion isn’t to blame.
Speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto in a recent interview, White explained how Khabib had no choice but to stay in Russia amid concerns over coronavirus.
“Everybody knows that the Khabib fight fell out, and I could go on for ten minutes telling you how that thing fell apart,” White said. “But the reality is, that’s nobody’s fault. Every day when I got up, the rules changed. Things were shutting down, things were closing down. Many people thought this would be impossible for us to pull off; I’m of the mindset that nothing is impossible. We’ll get this thing figured out — where there’s a will, there’s a way. He [Khabib] got caught up in Russia, it was a total mishap. We all made mistakes in that one. Nobody’s to blame for that.”
"[Khabib] got caught up in Russia. It was a total mishap. We all made mistakes in that one. Nobody's to blame for that."@danawhite tells @bokamotoESPN about the difficulty of pulling #UFC249 together. pic.twitter.com/gga3JaRpqH— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 7, 2020
“And I know everyone was going crazy on Khabib and saying that he [pulled out]. Khabib didn’t do anything wrong,” White added (h/t Metro). “If you look at the way that the world changed, literally by the day, we got caught up man, and he ended up getting flown back to Russia. He didn’t fly back to Russia, het got flown back to Russia. So it sucks, but what are you going to do?”
White says he will look to rebook Khabib-Ferguson for September but, for now, the 50-year-old is focused on promoting the new UFC 249 main event between ‘El Cucuy’ and Justin Gaethje.
“We’re lucky we’re even here, we’ve still got Tony and Gaethje which is a ridiculous fight, it will be for the interim title and then we’ll all have to wait again and try to do this thing in September.”
UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje will take place on April 18 at a secret location and venue.