Reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, was expected to defend his 155-pound strap against top division contender, Tony Ferguson, at the upcoming UFC 249 pay-per-view (PPV) event on April 18 in Brooklyn.
Instead, the promotion was forced to pull the plug on the Barclays Center after New York City became the epicenter for coronavirus in America, though California is not far behind with a strict shelter-in-place and state-wide ban on large gatherings.
Governor Gavin Newsom recently requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to assist in California’s COVID-19 emergency response.
That led “The Eagle” — who at one point had American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) all to himself — to pack his bags and leave San Jose to return home to Russia, perhaps a cautionary measure in case stateside travel is suspended in the coming weeks.
The status of UFC 249 is currently unknown. UFC President Dana White insists the show will proceed as scheduled at an alternate city and venue, with Dubai as a potential frontrunner, but no official word just yet. Time is running out and international travel continues to become more challenging.