Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced to abandon his training camp in the United States amid the growing fears on the coronavirus pandemic.
The defending lightweight champion will be taking the toughest test of his MMA career next month as he faces Tony Ferguson in the main event of UFC 249 fight card.
The Barclays Center was slated to play host to this exciting affair but the UFC is now currently looking for a different venue as the number of COVID-19 cases in New York soars to nearly 16 000, forcing the state’s athletic commission to cancel the event.
This also puts UFC 249 in serious doubt as large gatherings including sporting events have been banned across the US, raising speculations it could happen outside America.
However, UFC president Dana White assured the fight card will happen as scheduled.
“They’ll be fighting, but not in New York. I will get it figured out. I love the city of New York and I want to come back as soon as possible. But life is going to have to get back to normal,” White said (per The Post).
Just when MMA fans think the situation couldn’t get more complicated, Nurmagomedov has returned home to Russia to continue his preparation for the title fight.
According to a report from Tass Sport, the undisputed lightweight champion has decided to move his training camp to his home country as the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California recently closed its door due to the escalating coronavirus threats.
With many countries tightening their travel restrictions, traveling to the new venue of the UFC 249 may be difficult for Khabib and even for Ferguson as the Russian’s camp suggested the UFC may relocate the fight to the Middle East.
Despite the uncertainties, White said UFC 249 will go ahead but it will be held behind closed doors.
“I do (know where it is). But I’m not ready to tell you yet. I know lots of things. There’s not going to be any fans there. It’s going to be a closed event.” the UFC president claimed.
“Everybody who is going to be involved in this thing is going to be because they want to be, not because they have to be or they have to do anything”
He added: “Believe me: We didn’t just start thinking about safety when the coronavirus popped up. Health and safety, these are things that normal businesses that are out there right now don’t necessarily have to think about on a daily basis.
“Health and safety is something we’ve been doing long before the coronavirus and we’ll be doing it long after the coronavirus is gone. This is just normal (expletive) for us.”
(Featured Image Source: Instagram/ Khabib Nurmagomedov)