As much as the UFC tried to make it happen, it looks like the coronavirus will be forcing the cancelation of a highly anticipated fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
ESPN has reported that in an Instagram Live chat earlier today, Nurmagomedov shared that he is currently in Russia and unable to leave due to the country closing its borders due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the promotion still wants UFC 249 to move forward, and they have reportedly been searching for an opponent for Ferguson in the now-likely event that Nurmagomedov can’t fight.
Ariel Helwani says that no other opponent has been confirmed as a replacement, but that Justin Gaethje has been offered to Ferguson. At the time of this post’s publication, Ferguson hadn’t agreed to fight Gaethje, however.
Ferguson is currently on an eleven-fight winning streak, and his planned fight with the 28-0 Nurmagomedov has had fans hyped up since it was announced. However, as more and more sporting events were canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus, the fight’s status was put into jeopardy. Dana White had already confirmed that he’d have to relocate the event due to the current restrictions in the United States, but it still looks like fans will have to wait a bit longer to see this fight happen.
This is far from the first time that this particular fight has been canceled, and many people call the matchup “cursed.” Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson has been scheduled multiple times, but both fighters have had to pull out due to injuries.