Dana White has insisted UFC’s planned lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will go ahead in April despite the impact coronavirus has had on the promotion’s upcoming events this week.
On Monday, UFC president White confirmed UFC London – originally scheduled for this Saturday – had been postponed indefinitely, along with UFC Columbus and UFC Portland, the next two cards on the company’s calendar.
The move caused panic in many MMA fans, who fear that the Covid-19 outbreak could mean Khabib vs Ferguson ends up being cancelled for a fifth time in five years.
The bout between undefeated lightweight champion Nurmagomedov and Ferguson, who has not lost since 2012, is arguably the most anticipated in MMA history, and is set to headline UFC 249 on 18 April.
On four separate occasions in the past the contest has fallen through, with American Ferguson twice withdrawing through injury, and Dagestani Nurmagomedov pulling out once due to injury and missing weight on another occasion.
As a result, White moved to reassure fans this week.
“We’re postponing the next three events, but Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib [on] 18 April is still on,” he said on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
“That will still happen. We’re going to follow these guidelines to not have more than 10 people in a room.
“We’re hoping this all clears up by April. This fight is going to happen. No crowd – whatever it takes. It probably won’t even be in the United States, but this fight is going to happen.”
UFC 249 was supposed to take place in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, but the United States’ guidelines on mass gatherings in light of the outbreak means it is all but guaranteed to be held behind closed doors, as White alluded to.