Dana White: 'Khabib vs. Tony will happen' despite coronavirus restrictions

Sporting News

UFC president Dana White is intent on having the long-delayed fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson finally take place even as the promotion deals with the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic on athletic events.

White even made a guarantee about the bout early Sunday.

"The fans are all freaking out about that. Do not worry, Khabib vs. Tony will happen," White said on ESPN's "SportsCenter."

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White's biggest problem is finding a new place to stage the fight now that it can't happen in New York or Nevada.

Khabib-Ferguson is the main event of UFC 249 on April 18. It was supposed to be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered a ban on most gatherigs of more than 500 people in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Las Vegas was a logical alternative, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission voted Saturday (per the Las Vegas Journal Review) to revoke licenses for combat events through March 25, the date of its next meeting. The NSAC will discuss at that meeting whether to keep the suspension of events in place longer.

UFC had Fight Night events planned for March 28 and April 11 at its Apex Facility in Las Vegas, but those cards will also be moved, along with the March 21 UFC Fight Night in London, a victim of coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

White told ESPN he expects to have two new "venue options" by Sunday morning.

The UFC this weekend answered questions about whether it would stage events in empty arenas while governments impose limits on public gatherings. It held a Fight Night card in Brazil in front of just essential personnel. White is ready to press ahead with more such cards unless the bans become more Draconian.

"Unless there's a total shutdown of the country where people can't leave their houses and things like that, these fights will happen," he said, referring to UFC 249 and other upcoming events.

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