Nurmagomedov vs Ferguson

Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on sports, takes Nurmagomedov vs Ferguson as its latest victim.


Not only has the Eagle not landed, he appears to be stranded.


All signs point to the fifth time not being the charm for the hotly anticipated bout between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and #1 contender Tony Ferguson. Nurmagomedov announced early Monday that he is stuck in Russia and unable to travel due to the country’s closed borders policy amid the global coronavirus pandemic. 

The UFC’s persistence to keep UFC 249 alive during the coronavirus outbreak has been riddled by a tragic comedy of missteps in an effort to deliver the most exciting fight in the lightweight division despite the last minute changes. The initial plan was to move the initially scheduled fight card from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. That plan was soon shut down; however, when news came out on March 14 that the Nevada Athletic Commission would no longer license events in the state until further notice. This left the UFC scrambling to find a venue for the pay-per-view card on merely a month’s notice. 

During this time, Nurmagomedov had been holding his training camp behind closed doors at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. On March 20, however, Nurmagomedov said the UFC informed him that the fight would almost certainly not take place in the United States, due to licensing issues, so he decided to fly to the United Arab Emirates, where he was told was the most likely location. 

Upon seeing the Arab nation was on lockdown, Nurmagomedov flew back to his home country in Russia to await further news and continue his training. But Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustuck announced Saturday that the country’s borders would shut down Monday, preventing anyone to leave or enter. Nurmagomedov was unable to leave in time and is now stuck. 

While the UFC has not made an official statement on the matter, Nurmagomedov said the company informed him of their decision to move on with UFC 249 without him in it.  A potential matchup between Ferguson and #4 ranked lightweight Justin Gaethje has been rumored to act as the new main event for the troubled fight card, but a bout agreement has not been signed by either fighter. Another potential replacement mentioned has been a welterweight championship fight between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal, but those negotiations are also in early stages and unlikely to pan out in such short notice. 

Whatever the case may be, the UFC brass stubbornly continues to hold on to the idea that UFC 249 will still take place on April 18, despite having no venue announced and now with no main event on the table. 

Even if they were to sign the bout between Ferguson and Gaethje for an interim championship, though it would be an exciting fight under other circumstances, it fails to hold the weight that Nurmagomedov and Ferguson could have held.  With both fighters on double-digit winning streaks in the UFC, this matchup would have likely determined the greatest lightweight fighter in UFC history. 

Moreover, the possibility of Gaethje beating Ferguson in this replacement fight would likely seal the chances of Nurmagomedov and Ferguson to ever face each other in the Octagon

Although this latest development in the Nurmagomedov and Ferguson saga is yet another disappointment for MMA fans, it should be an eye-opener for the UFC to cut its losses and postpone UFC 249 until it is safe to hold an event and save the holy grail of the lightweight matchups for a better time.


The sixth time is sure to be the one. 


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-Leo Schauer – Franchise Sports Media

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