Reigning lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is currently stuck in his native Dagestan because Russia has locked down international travel in response to the coronavirus pandemic that everyone but UFC is attempting to control.
As a result, “The Eagle” may not be able to fight Tony Ferguson in the UFC 249 main event on April 18, which is why UFC has now asked lightweight contender, Justin Gaethje to replace Nurmagomedov, presumably for the interim strap.
That’s according to ESPN reporter Ariel Helwani.
“UFC is aware of Nurmagomedov’s status and have now begun looking at alternate plans for the April 18 main event and card, which they are still determined to put on,” Helwani wrote on Twitter. “As a result, Tony Ferguson, per sources, has been offered a fight against top contender Justin Gaethje, however, that fight has not been agreed upon nor finalized.”
UFC 249 still does not have a confirmed location.
The promotion has been scrambling to stage live events in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Three fight cards were already postponed in March and now April appears to be in jeopardy, as well, though UFC President Dana White may be the last one to figure that out.