Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is apparently unable to leave Russia after its president, Vladimir Putin, closed down the borders and grounded all flights to suppress the spread of COVID-19.
As a result, his much-anticipated title defense against Tony Ferguson, which was set to go down at UFC 249 on April 18, 2020, is likely now canceled for a fifth time. Ferguson, meanwhile, is still putting the blame on Khabib for bailing from their fight, saying “The Eagle” had enough time to leave Russia before everything shut down.
“Honestly, I as very upset, but I feel more for everybody who is actually going through hard times. Of course I am a bit pissed,” Ferguson said on ESPN’s SportsCenter, before calling for Khabib to be stripped of the title. “He had the chance to say here. He was in Abu Dhabi and had the chance to be able to come back before the borders were closed in Russia, but he decided to go back to Dagestan. The guy does not want to fight. He’s scared and he should be stripped of his title.”
Still, Ferguson understands the reason Nurmagomedov went back home to be with his family. One the flip side, “El Cucuy” also feels “The Eagle” was simply looking for a way out.
“I get what he wanted to do, obviously, he is here and his family is back home in Dagestan. He did what he had to do, but he had the opportunity, and he did the exact same thing as UFC 209. He knew he wasn’t cutting weight very good, he said it already that he was having a hard time cutting weight, focusing and doing everything else. To me that is running away.
“He obviously knew what he could do to help save this card and he didn’t want to take those chances, he continued. “Everybody’s taking risks, but he bailed out. It’s pretty hard to explain, but he bailed out.”
Despite this latest setback, Dana White and Co. are still pushing forward with plans to stage UFC 249. As far as a possible replacement for Khabib, the current front runner is Justin Gaethje.