UFC 249 will continue with or without Khabib, per rumors
The UFC has been a single organization not willing to cancel its long-awaited UFC 249 in the period of major sporting events’ cancellation. Dana White has been insisting Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his title against Tony Ferguson in their fifth scheduled bout. However it, once again, seems unlikely we will get the opportunity to see the fight.
Khabib has been in his hometown in Dagestan for the past few weeks, but will probably not have the opportunity to go to the U.S., as Russia has placed a travel ban.
“We were training in the AKA without any information regarding the fight, where and how is it going to happen,” Nurmagomedov said to 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.”
That being said, Dana White has to be credited for his will to put on the card for the fans. But this event may mean Khabib will not take place in a fight to cement his legacy, due to unforeseeable circumstances.
“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.”
It seems as this decision may not be in Dana’s hands at all. A decision on a replacement, however, might be. It is rumored that the UFC’s president is looking into the possibility of Justin Gaethje to step in. In a recent interview with the MMA Fighting, Gaethje has stated he has been in the training process and has been working on his craft with his coaches in the gym.
The card’s co-main event between Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas is expected to take place, with Dana also throwing the idea of a Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik bout.