UFC fans have been waiting for years to see Khabib Nurmagomedov fight Tony Ferguson. Each time that the two men were scheduled to fight each other, the fight was ultimately canceled for different reasons. For the fifth time, they are scheduled to fight each other, this time on April 18th at UFC 249 in Brooklyn, New York. But, that may not be the case anymore.
The Coronavirus puts the world on hold
The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been spreading around the world since its first confirmed case in late 2019. Since then, multiple countries have been put on lockdown, and most recently, the Coronavirus has caused many Americans to take notice and cancel events.
For example, the NBA’s season has been postponed, the NCAA’s March Madness has been canceled, and the NHL’s season has also been postponed among other things.
Usually, the people who decide when things get postponed are the people in charge of the organization. However, due to the public health concerns with the Coronavirus, politicians also have the power to stop these events from happening.
The situation is dynamic, and things can change at any time. But many states have already put a limit on how many people can gather in a public space. This will undoubtedly have an impact on sports.
How the Coronavirus is affecting the UFC
The UFC is different from a lot of sports organizations in many ways, but most notably is the fact that it’s a single-player sport rather than a team game. Another notable difference is that the UFC doesn’t hold events as frequently as other sports do.
So, while the UFC will be affected by the laws that limit how many people can gather in public, the UFC will have some advantages over other organizations when it comes to handling the Coronavirus.
That’s not to say that the UFC will be immune to the Coronavirus, though. Every fighter trains from a gym, and gyms are still large gathering places that can spread the Coronavirus around. No UFC fighter has tested positive with the Coronavirus yet, but due to how many UFC fighters train at the same gyms, it’s possible that a positive test will lead to multiple UFC fighters being affected by it.
Additionally, the public gathering limit that some states have passed has affected the UFC in other ways, too. For example, the most recent UFC event in Brazil was held in an empty arena.
The UFC also announced that two future UFC events, UFC Columbus and UFC Portland, have been relocated to the UFC’s APEX training center in Las Vegas where the events will be held with only essential personnel in attendance. But those plans were canceled when Nevada voted to stop licensing any sporting events.
Will Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson be canceled again?
New York, which is where Khabib Nurmagomedov is supposed to fight Tony Ferguson, has also announced a public gathering limit, according to The New York Times. UFC 249 is supposed to take place a week after UFC Portland, but despite these facts, the UFC has simply said that UFC 249 will still happen, but not where or when.
In all likelihood, UFC 249 likely won’t be canceled. However, due to New York’s public gathering limit, the UFC will probably move it to somewhere else. The UFC is possibly hoping that the Coronavirus will wear itself out before UFC 249 happens, as UFC 249 will be one of the UFC’s biggest events of the year.
As ESPN reported, the UFC’s plan to move fights to Nevada isn’t happening anymore. Instead, the UFC will be postponing UFC Columbus and UFC Portland for the future. Additionally, as MMAjunkie reported, the upcoming UFC London card relocated to the U.S., but since many British fighters couldn’t fly out before the borders closed, many fights were scrapped.
All we can do now is wait and see, and for UFC fans, that hopefully means watching Nurmagomedov fight Ferguson in an empty arena somewhere.