Khabib Nurmagomedov knows he won’t be fighting Tony Ferguson in New York next month, but he’s confident the highly anticipated showdown will happen somewhere in the world on April 18, even if Dana White isn’t.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic forced the UFC to postpone their next three cards on March 21, March 28 and April 11, there’s been a huge amount of concern that UFC 249 will be the next card sacrificed.
While most states across the U.S. have issued orders banning mass gatherings of any kind in an attempt to slow down the spread of the disease, White has said that he will secure a new venue and location for the fight after the New York State Athletic Commission ruled out the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Despite so much uncertainty in the sport right now, Nurmagomedov is still training and preparing for his fight with Ferguson in anticipation that White will follow through on his promise.
“We’ll see. Next couple of days, Dana’s going to send us location,” Nurmagomedov said during an Instagram Live session just recently.
“We need maximum 100 people inside the arena. Close the arena, 100 healthy people come inside and make the show. Put the camera on pay-per-view and everybody can fight. People who are quarantined and (at) home, they’ll have fun and watch fights.
“I think we just need 100 people to make this fight. Put the camera on and show who’s the best lightweight of all time. This is a very important fight, and this is why I like the UFC’s politics. They always try to make the best versus the best.”
Is the Khabib vs. Ferguson fight cursed?
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been scheduled to meet four times previously but on each occasion disaster struck to prevent the matchup from actually happening.
The last incident involved a rogue cable at a television studio that Ferguson tripped over, which later resulted in major knee surgery for the former interim lightweight champion.
A global pandemic happening right now almost makes it seem like fate that the fight will never happen, but Nurmagomedov believes the show most go on even in the wake of a deadly disease that has claimed more than 6,500 lives worldwide.
“This is a very important fight, because the lightweight division has to move,” Nurmagomedov said. “Right now, you have a couple guys who have win streaks. A lot of contenders are coming. I don’t want to hold the lightweight division.
“We have to fight Tony Ferguson and know who’s the next contender. This is very important, not just for me, (but) the UFC lightweight division. That’s why I really want to fight with him.”
Dana White’s confidence in April 18 date is waning
Even as Nurmagomedov said he believed that White would be able to make the April 18 date happen somewhere in the world, the brash UFC president’s confidence seemed to be waning a bit amidst ever tightening restrictions.
Asked about UFC 249 and how realistic it would be that it would happen on April, White told TSN Sports, “Khabib and Tony is going to happen. We’re going to figure that out. We’re going to make it happen and then it’s just going to be a matter of how quickly we can get back to being normal.”
He wasn’t so sure of pulling it off on April 18 now, however, admitting that it could be out of his control.
“Listen, again, 10 days ago I’d have told you things for sure. I don’t know. I’m sort of rolling with the punches here and have been since the beginning. I can’t honestly answer that question for you.”