The main event of UFC 249, a fight between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former interim champion Tony Ferguson, is in jeopardy.
Nurmagomedov told fans on Instagram how he is stranded in Russia due to government travel restrictions put in place to quell the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The undefeated lightweight king revealed his training camp for Ferguson has seen him fly from Russia, to the USA, to the United Arab Emirates, and back to his home country in an effort to make the fight happen.
“We were training in the AKA without any information regarding the fight, where and how is it going to happen,” he told fans on Instagram Live in Russian [translation via 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.”
So according to Nurmagomedov, the UFC’s plans of holding the fight in the UAE have essentially been scrapped due to travel restrictions. Now, it appears the defending champion of their main event fight is also unable to compete as he is unable to leave Russia.
However, the Dagestan mauler says the UFC may be looking to press on with putting on the UFC 249 event without him.
“So now I am hearing that they are looking to organize it with or without me. OK, go ahead,” said Nurmagomedov. “Everyone should follow the laws. I am not against it, I know that fighters need to feed their families and pay their bills. I know how hard it is for the fighter. Unless they fight they aren’t getting any money. 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.”
If this fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson doesn’t happen, it will be the fifth time it failed to materialised after been booked.