On Monday, March 30, Khabib Nurmagomedov made the unfortunate announcement that he would be unable to travel to fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, thus rendering the event’s marquis fight highly unlikely.
Scrambling to find another bout to replace Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov, Dana White tapped all available resources and found a highly unlikely, yet compelling matchup. The new headliner of UFC 249 will be a first of its kind: a special bout for the “intergender title” between Valentina Shevchenko and Henry Cejudo to take place at 125 pounds. The event has been moved to an “undisclosed location” in Alaska and has been sanctioned by the Alaska state commission.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times was able to get a hold of UFC President Dana White, who kept it simple:
“I was crushed when I heard that Khabib wouldn’t be able to fight and that we weren’t going to be able to hold a sanctioned event in Brooklyn. What the hell am I supposed to tell our fighters? The show must go on and desperate times call for desperate measures… Henry has stated on numerous occasions both publicly and in private that he’s not above fighting a woman, and Valentina has looked unstoppable in her last five fights and had already pretty broadly implied that she’d be willing to take the fight. As much as this fight doesn’t make sense, it really does.
If any woman in the 125 lb weight class can handle Henry, it’s her, so who knows what’ll happen? We are grateful to the commission in Alaska for accommodating us.”
Cejudo, who last fought in June, will be coming into the fight as a heavy favorite. Interestingly, assuming this and his next fight happen, he will be headlining two consecutive UFC events; at UFC 250 on May 9, he will defend his bantamweight title against Jose Aldo.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times reached out to Cejudo, who referred us to his statement from last summer:
“My phone just keeps blowing up, that somebody by the name of Valentina ‘The Bullet’ Shevchenko is the most dominant champion in the world. And guess what: I get a little jelly because you know what? She has that gold, I want that gold. Valentina Shevchenko, I have a message for you: I’m looking to become the first intergender world champion this world has ever seen… I’m calling you out: you could be the next to bend the knee to Triple C”
Valentina, on the other hand, is calling her shots and plans on making the loudest statement ever made by a woman in MMA:
“I told you to be careful what you wish for, and now your wish is going to come true. I’m knocking you out in the first round. With a knee. To your face.”
Stay tuned for more details