Tony Ferguson is scheduled to challenge the undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov for his title at UFC 249 on April 18.
It was recently reported that Khabib Nurmagomedov might be stranded in Russia, with the recently invoked travel restrictions in the country, due to growing concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The lightweight champion said that UFC 249 could go on “with or without him”:
Denis Geyko from Russia Today (RT) Sports provided the full translation. Read it below:
“We were training in the AKA without any information regarding the fight, where and how is it going to happen,” Nurmagomedov began. “Then the UFC told us that the fight 100% isn’t happening in the States and they said that 99% that it will happen in Emirates, Abu Dhabi. 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 the 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 as in the States, the same as in Europe, Emirates, everywhere. The whole world is in quarantine right now.”
“So now I am hearing that they are looking to organize it with or without me,” Nurmagomedov continued. “OK, go ahead. 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 5 weeks of hard training in the AKA. Now I don’t really know what’s going on. It’s really hard to train and cut your weight when the whole world is locked down and you don’t know what you are preparing for. But it’s not the first time I face obstacles in my career.”
Fans are desperate to know what Tony Ferguson will choose to do if Khabib Nurmagomedov is unable to fight him on April 18. Some potential choices are waiting for Nurmagomedov and rescheduling the bout for a later date or facing UFC lightweight contender Justin Gaethje.
MMA correspondent Ariel Helwani recently ran a poll for the fans on his Twitter, asking what they would prefer Tony Ferguson did next. John Kavanagh responded to him, suggesting that there is a “third option” too:
“maybe there’s a third option…” Kavanagh tweeted.
It is highly likely that Kavanagh is suggesting that his star student Conor “Notorious” McGregor could step in against Tony Ferguson. John Kavanagh is the head coach at SBG Ireland. He is the long term coach of Conor McGregor and the two have a strong relationship.
Conor McGregor last fought in the Octagon against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246 in January of this year. It likely that the Irishman came out of that fight injury-free, as he secured the win over Cerrone via TKO in just 40 seconds into the very 1st round.
Tony Ferguson hasn’t released a statement on this situation as of yet. It still remains to be seen whether UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will be able to leave his home country and travel to the location of UFC 249.
The location of UFC 249 also remains unknown at this time. UFC president Dana White recently said that he has “four or five locations” for the event.
This article first appeared on CLOSEDGUARDMEDIA.com on 31st March, 2020.