The highly anticipated UFC title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson has officially been canceled, Dana White said on Twitter Monday. The main event on April 18 will be between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje instead.
Nurmagomedov is stuck in his home country, Russia. He won’t be able to leave for any reason, so White had no choice but to replace him. Fans have been waiting for this title fight for five years, but they’re going to have to wait even longer.
Khabib versus Ferguson has been canceled five times
This is not the first time a scheduled fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson has fallen through. It’s not even the second, or the third, or even the fourth. This actually marks the fifth time a Khabib versus Ferguson showdown has been canceled.
There’s been a number of wacky reasons why this matchup has never happened. In 2015 Nurmagomedov was forced to back out of the fight due to an injury. The next year Ferguson had a lung issue that pushed him out 11 days prior to the scheduled bout.
The strangest incident occurred in 2018. Ferguson slipped and injured himself during a media obligation less than a week before the fight and couldn’t compete. It was then that fans started to believe the fight was cursed and would never come to fruition. Two years later, the curse evidently still hasn’t been lifted.
Khabib can’t fight in UFC 249 because he’s stranded in Russia
Last Monday, Nurmagomedov announced on Instagram that he traveled back to his hometown of Dagestan, Russia and wasn’t sure if he would be able to leave. He was unaware that Russia was planning on closing its borders.
“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,” Nurmagomedov said on his live stream.
Nurmagomedov was in California just a few weeks ago training for the upcoming title fight. There was no information about where the fight would take place. It was originally scheduled for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but that venue fell apart once the coronavirus hit the state of New York hard.
Dana White says the show must go on
Unfortunately, Khabib versus Ferguson will have to wait another agonizing couple of months or even years. Time will tell whether the curse will win out or the two will finally square off in the octagon. All we know is that it won’t be happening on April 18.
Nurmagomedov might be off the card, but Ferguson is still scheduled to fight. The new main event will be between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title. Dana White said Monday on Twitter the deal is signed and 100 percent on.
The venue for UFC 249 has not been announced yet, but White always has something up his sleeve.
Ferguson is ranked No. 2 in the UFC lightweight division by ESPN, while Gaethje comes in at No. 4. Ferguson (25-3) has won 12 straight bouts and hasn’t lost since 2012. Gaethje (21-2) is a finishing machine and a worthy challenger. He’s only gone to decision just twice in his UFC career.
It isn’t the fight UFC fans have been craving for so long, but Dana White will always find a way to entertain the fighting world. The show must go on, so under White, it shall.