Coronavirus: Stranded Khabib Nurmagomedov admits UFC 249 may go ahead ‘without him’

Tom Kershaw
The Independent

Khabib Nurmagomedov has admitted his long-awaited bout against Tony Ferguson is likely to be called off for a fifth time, with the UFC lightweight champion currently stranded in Russia.

Nurmagomedov was originally scheduled to face Ferguson on 18 April in New York before the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak.

UFC president Dana White has remained adamant that the bout will go ahead and recently claimed the fight was ”99 per cent likely” to take place in the United Arab Emirates.

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Nurmagomedov subsequently returned from California to Dagestan to complete his training camp but now believes UFC are planning to stage the event “with or without” him after learning that Russia’s ”borders are going to be locked”.

“So now I am hearing that they are looking to organise it with or without me. OK, go ahead,” he said. “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 per cent isn’t happening in the US, and even if it’s not happening in the Emirates it will happen on this side of Atlantic. We discussed everything with the UFC.

“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.’

Nurmagomedov, who has only fought once since defeating Conor McGregor in October 2018, said he will continue with his training camp despite the uncertainty.

“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.”

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