Khabib Nurmagamedov confirmed that he is effectively out of UFC 249. That’s because he’s stuck in his native Russia after they closed the borders. The coronavirus has taken over the world and the Russian government acted to contain the threat. However, it’s bad news for the lightweight champion.
Originally arranged for April 18 in Madison Square Garden, the situation became impossible for the UFC. New York is now in a state of emergency with all of its citizens in self-isolation. All sports events in the city have been canceled. So Khabib v Tony Ferguson fell through for the fifth time.
But now reports are emerging that Conor McGregor could be a potential opponent for the Russian. He is in training and there is time on his side to get to Abu Dhabi where the UFC wants to hold the event. Can the Notorious save the day? Who would win in a fight between him and El Cucuy?
After the UFC confirmed that the fight would be in the UAE, Khabib decided to leave the US. He went back to Dagestan but now finds himself trapped there. It’s a disaster for the champion and diehard MMA fans. Speaking on Instagram, he explained:
“After talking to the UFC we decided to fly over to the Emirates a month before the fight. I don’t remember the exact date, it was 19th or 20th, I’ll have to check. But when we landed in Emirates we learned that they are going to close borders and no one will be able to leave or fly in, with exception of residents.
“So, we had to fly back to Russia. Currently, I am in Dagestan and I am training and preparing every day, although I don’t know what am I preparing for. Because after we came to Russia we also learned that the borders are going to be locked. Same like in the States, same like in Europe, Emirates, everywhere. The whole world is in quarantine right now.”
According to Khabib, the UFC is still desperate to put on an event. Ferguson is still in training and eligible to go to the UAE. McGregor is in the same situation and posted videos of himself training on social media. The pair could fight for another interim title or even just a title shot. It’s not perfect for Ferguson, but it’s definitely a bigger payday than a Khabib fight.
“So now I am hearing that they are looking to organize it with or without me. OK, go ahead,” he said. “Everyone should follow the laws. I am not against it, I know that fighters need to feed their families and pay their bills. I know how hard it is for the fighter. Unless they fight they aren’t getting any money. I am even hearing that they are looking for an opponent for Tony because he is in the States and I am here in Russia. But I am here not on my own will.
The UFC told me that this fight 100% isn’t happening in the USA, and even if it’s not happening in the Emirates it will happen on this side of Atlantic. We discussed everything with the UFC. By that time I already spent five weeks of hard training at AKA. Now I don’t really know what’s going on.”
The UFC is desperate for an event because there’s literally no sports on right now except for Belarussian soccer. While there is no confirmation so far that McGregor is in talks, Irish MMA journalist Sean Sheehan has reported that McGregor is on standby as an alternate for either man.
However, Justin Gaethje is the other option. He would also be traveling from the USA so it’s very possible that the UFC would match them up. A Ferguson v Gaethje fight would be pure carnage. It would probably take years off of both men’s careers. But we’d watch it. We’re never getting Khabib v Tony so we may as well take what we can get.