UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov Officially Withdraws from April 18 Fight Date

Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC 242 press conference
Khabib Nurmagomedov, UFC 242 press conference Credit: Youtube/UFC

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially withdrawn from the long-anticipated bout with Tony Ferguson on April 18.

After weeks of speculation, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially withdrawn from the April 18 fight date with Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 due to travel restrictions and public health concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This is Nurmagomedov’s official statement:

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? – 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.

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.

As the globe has taken increasing precautions over concerns about the coronavirus, Nurmagomedov flew back to his native Russia earlier this week.  In an Instagram interview, Nurmagomedov had said that he flew back to Russia as he was told the fight would be “99.9%” likely to take place in Abu Dhabi.  As travel restrictions have increased by the day around the world, Russia later announced that they would be closing their borders for travel in-and-out of the country.

Nurmagomedov discussed in his statement how he feels it unfair that he is expected to take the risk of flying to the location of the proposed bout amid global health concerns and the drastic changes being made around the world by large corporations.

As has been frequently reported, this is the fifth time that the fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson has been scheduled and fallen through.  While both men have been responsible for withdrawing from the fight in the past, a global pandemic is the last reason anyone could have predicted for the match-up not coming to fruition when the fight was announced last year.

Since yesterday, several fighters have addressed the situation and taken to social media to offer to step up for the bout.  Top lightweight contender Justin Gaethje was reportedly offered the bout with Ferguson and fighters like Dustin Poirier and Tyron Woodley also offered to step in to face “El Cucuy.”  Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal are also fighters who have expressed interest in competing against each other on the date if a card does take place.  With the immediate future of the UFC schedule uncertain, it remains anyone’s guess when business will resume.


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