Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, left the United States after California announced a shelter-in-place, so that “The Eagle” would be able to travel to the city and venue playing host to the still-homeless UFC 249.
At the time he was in transit, the likely destination was Dubai.
Unfortunately for Nurmagomedov, his arrival in United Arab Emirates (UAE) was met with more of the same, and in fear of getting trapped behind foreign borders, the undefeated lightweight got back on a plane and returned to his home in Dagestan.
And the critics were not happy about it.
“Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight, it turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine, governments of all countries, famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements in order to limit the spread of the disease, to save people, and Khabib is the only one relieved of all obligations and must demonstrate free will and train flying around the world, for the sake of fight?” Nurmagomedov wrote on Instagram.
The coronavirus pandemic is a fluid and constantly evolving situation, so it was and remains impossible to predict how things will unfold. All anyone can do, Nurmagomedov included, is make the best possible decision at the time.
And the promotion’s failure to secure a location only complicated matters. It’s not fair to ask a fighter who is competing in what could be his most difficult fight to date to keep skipping around the globe in an attempt to outrun COVID-19.
“I understand everything and I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others, I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control it all,” Nurmagomedov continued. “The greatest countries and the largest companies of our time are shocked by what is happening, every day the situation changes unpredictably. But Khabib still has to fight, is that what you saying? Take care of yourself and put yourself in my shoes.”
UFC is trying to keep opponent Tony Ferguson atop the UFC 249 fight card and recently asked lightweight contender, Justin Gaethje, to step in and take his place. Still no word from the promotion on where the event will take place, or who will be participating on April 18.