Khabib vs Tony

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s status for UFC 249 in jeopardy due to Russia’s travel restrictions

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov may not be able fight at UFC 249 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in his home country of Russia.

Russia is currently under a national travel lockdown and Nurmagomedov (28-0) appeared on Instagram live on Monday to explain his situation. “The Eagle” said he is currently stuck in his native Dagestan and the travel restrictions will affect his plans to travel to the United Arab Emirates for the fight.

“We were training at (American Kickboxing Academy) without any information regarding the fight – where and how is it going to happen,” he said (via RT Sport translation). “Then the UFC told us that the fight 100 percent isn’t happening in the States. And they said that 99 percent that it will happen in (the United Arab) Emirates – Abu Dhabi.

“After talking to the UFC, we decided to fly over to the Emirates a month before the fight. I don’t remember the exact date – it was (March) 19 or 20. I’ll have to check. But when we landed in Emirates, we learned that they are going to close (the) borders and no one will be able to leave or fly in with (the) exception of residents.

“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. Same like in the States, same like in Europe, Emirates – everywhere. The whole world is in quarantine right now.”

With Nurmagomedov stuck in Russia, the champion said that UFC officials are now looking for an alternate to fill in for him if he’s unable to fight.

“I am even hearing that they are looking for an opponent for Tony, because he is in the States and I am here in Russia. But I am here not on my own will. The UFC told me that this fight 100 percent isn’t happening in the USA, and even if it’s not happening in the Emirates, it will happen on this side of (the) Atlantic. We discussed everything with the UFC. By that time, I already spent five weeks of hard training at AKA.”

If Khabib Nurmagomedov can’t fight at UFC 249, it will be the fifth time the fight between him and Tony Ferguson (25-3) has fallen through. This fight is considered to be the most anticipated fight in UFC history.

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John Eric Poli