A Tweet on Sunday reported that UFC President Dana White reached a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin that would bring Khabib Nurmagomedov to the United States for UFC 249 on April 18.
While the tweet appeared to be “breaking news” from ESPN reporter Ariel Helwani, it was actually the work of a troll that set up an authentic looking fake account.
Despite the fake news from the fake account, White responded, shooting down the tweet, but indicating that UFC 249 was still going to take place with a fight card to be revealed on Monday. That had yet to happen at the time of publication.
The initial fake tweet:
#BREAKING: Dana White and Vladimir Putin have reached an agreement on travel arrangements for UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to come to the United States. He will fight Tony Ferguson. It’s happening folks. #UFC249 will go on as scheduled April 18.
Dana White’s reply to the fake tweet:
Absolutely NOT true!!! The card is happening but @TeamKhabib (Khabib Nurmagomedov) is out. I will announce the entire card tomorrow.
A quick UFC 249 timeline
The UFC 249 fight card was originally slated to feature Nurmagomedov putting his lightweight title on the line opposite Tony Ferguson on April 18 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The first domino to fall was the state of New York telling White that UFC 249 would not be allowed in the anywhere in the state on April 18. White then began searching for a new location, of which he has said there were several options.
In the meantime, Nurmagomedov flew back to Russia via Abu Dhabi, where he initially thought the event would be held, only to be put into the midst of a countrywide lockdown.
UFC officials then moved on to try and find a new opponent for Furgeson. Most speculation has settled on Justin Gaethje as the likely candidate for the bout.
White was part of a conference call with U.S. President Donald Trump and several other sports league officials, but that apparently hasn’t dissuaded him from trying to move ahead with UFC 249 in some fashion on April 18.