Khabib Nurmagomedov may not get to face Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. Nurmagomedov announced on Instagram live Monday that he is at home in Dagestan, Russia, and is unsure if he'll be able to fight Ferguson on April 18.
"We were training at [American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif.] without any information regarding the fight–where and how is it going to happen," he said, per a RT Sport translation. "Then the UFC told us that the fight 100% isn't happening in the States. And they said that 99% that it will happen in [the United Arab] Emirates–Abu Dhabi."
He added that he flew to UAE around 10 days ago but soon learned the country planned to close its borders and only allow residents to fly in or out amid the pandemic.
"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," he said. "Same like in the States, same like in Europe, Emirates–everywhere. The whole world is in quarantine right now."
UFC 249 was originally scheduled to take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn next month. That location was nixed since New York City has become the epicenter of the coronavirus in the U.S., but UFC president Dana White recently said it will be a closed-door event held at another location. This marks the fifth time UFC has scheduled Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson only to see the fight fall apart.
ESPN reports UFC is aware of Nurmagomedov's situation and is looking at alternate plans for the April 18 fight card. Sources told ESPN that Ferguson has been offered a fight against Justin Gaethje but an agreement has not been reached.
Nurmagomedov suggested on Instagram Live that UFC might book another opponent to face Ferguson.
"So now I am hearing that they are looking to organize it with or without me. OK, go ahead," he said. "Everyone should follow the laws. I am not against it. I know that fighters need to feed their families and pay their bills. I know how hard it is for the fighter. Unless they fight, they aren't getting any money.
"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% 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.
"Now I don't really know what's going on. It's really hard to train and cut your weight when the whole world is locked down and you don't know what you are preparing for."
Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Saturday that the country would close its borders on Monday to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. There are more than 741,700 confirmed cases of the virus globally across at least 177 countries.