The UFC has been dealt another crushing blow in their efforts to keep UFC 249 on schedule for April 18. The main event was to feature a lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, but that has now changed. Nurmagomedov revealed on IG live that he is in Russia and travel from or out of the country has been shut down. UFC 249 has lost its main event and UFC President Dana White’s reason for pushing through with UFC 249 during a global pandemic.
Russia’s news outlet RT.com has transcribed the video, in which Nurmagomedov reveals his situation.
This will mark the fifth time that Ferguson and Nurmagomedov where supposed to fight and the bout gets cancelled. The fight has been the most anticipated fight in recent UFC history, as both are seen as two of the greatest lightweights in MMA today. The last time they were scheduled to fight, Ferguson had accidentally injured himself tripping over a wire promoting the fight.
Now with the main event of UFC 249 canceled and the global concern of the coronavirus, fans are looking for the UFC to cancel the event altogether. However, the UFC is hellbent on making UFC 249 happen even when advised not to. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that the UFC is looking for Justin Gathje to fight Ferguson in the main event of UFC 249. Both fighters have yet to agree to the fight and it’s being worked on. Helwani also reports that the UFC was also looking to book a welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal for UFC 249, but it’s not likely.
While trying to salvage the UFC 249 card, the UFC also has to find a new location for the event. The event was originally supposed to take place in Brooklyn, NY and the New York Athletic commission ruled that it couldn’t take place. Nurmagomedov revealed in the IG Live post that the UFC was looking at Abu Dhabi and are negotiating with several states in the United States to host UFC 249. UFC 249 seems to be going on as planned, but without Nurmagomedov it’s completely lost its enthusiasm.