Despite everything that has been said this past week regarding Khabib Nurmagomedov’s availability for UFC 249 later this month, the undefeated UFC lightweight champion is still looking to compete against Tony Ferguson on April 18th.
However, Nurmagomedov understands that his window of opportunity to fight in two weeks is quickly closing amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and growing travel restrictions around the world. Khabib is currently stranded in Russia without any clear way of leaving the country for UFC 249, but that hasn’t stopped “Eagle” from finishing off his relocated training camp.
“Just a couple of hours ago, I finished my training, because I have to be ready. It’s why I’m here. It’s why I signed contract,” Khabib told ESPN on Thursday.
“They don’t have a location. Why I have to fly to U.S.? Why can’t I fly to Japan or Asia or Africa. Maybe they can make it in Europe. Maybe they can make it in Middle East. I don’t know where I’m going to fight. Why fly to the U.S. For what? This is not my mistake. Coronavirus come to us. I don’t bring coronavirus. This is not my job.”
Nobody could have predicted the full effects that COVID-19 has had on the entire world, let alone the sports world, but UFC is still looking to adapt in order to keep the show going. The only problem is that UFC president Dana White still hasn’t found a new location to host UFC 249. It has been a work in progress, but even Khabib doesn’t know where the promotion is currently looking to book the pay-per-view (PPV) event.
“Is April 18 possibility?” Nurmagomedov said. “Every day I train. Every day, morning and night. I have a gym in my house. But right now, I am one of the biggest stars in the UFC. I am the undefeated, undisputed UFC champion. This is a not a regular fight. How is it 16 days before the fight and I don’t know the location? What is this? This is not professional.
“I have to fly, I have to [get over] jet lag, I have to [adjust to a] different climate. I have to cut weight, I have to focus, I have to finish my training camp. Too much stuff.”
While Khabib received considerable backlash for suggesting he won’t be able to make it to UFC 249, you can’t blame the lightweight champion for his gloom outlook. Nurmagomedov certainly wants to compete against Ferguson considering this is the fifth time a matchup has been booked, but there are so many unknowns at this point in time to think the lightweight title fight will be given the full green light.
“Right now, if they give me a location, if I can come out from Russia and go to any country, I’m going to fight,” Nurmagomedov said. “One-hundred percent, I’m going to fight. Just give me location.
“I’m gonna fight, but don’t tell me I have to fight nowhere. Where? Fly to U.S. For what? If they say we have a show, of course, I’m going to go. But right now, even if I want, I cannot go out from Russia. I cannot go in to U.S.”
Nobody knows for sure how this entire situation is going to play out, but it’s apparent that Khabib is ready to compete as long as a location is picked soon and access outside of Russia is granted. It seems like a lot to accomplish over the next week but crazier things have happened, especially with UFC president Dana White at the helm.