On an Instagram live post at around 5:00 a.m. Monday morning, UFC lightweight champion Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov announced that he can’t leave Russia because of the country’s travel ban and is therefore out of his UFC 249 showdown vs. Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson.
This will be the fifth time Nurmagomedov-Ferguson has been booked and eventually been cancelled.
Nobody seems to be at fault here. Several weeks ago while training at AKA in California, Nurmagomedov said he was told by the UFC that there was a 99 percent chance the show would take place in Abu Dhabi. He added that he was told (just as Dana White said to the media several times two weeks ago) that there was no chance UFC 249 was going take place in the United States.
Therefore, he decided to travel to Abu Dhabi. While en route, Abu Dhabi shut down its borders, so Nurmagomedov flew home to Dagestan. Now Russia has closed its borders, not allowing anyone to leave. Likewise, nobody is allowed to enter the United States.
With Nurmagomedov stuck in Russia, the UFC is actively seeking a replacement for ‘The Eagle.’ The promotion has reportedly offered the Ferguson scrap to Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje, who turned down a chance to fight Ferguson on just four weeks of notice when Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone ended up accepting a fight with Ferguson.
As of 2:25 p.m. ET. on Monday, it was unclear whether Gaethje will accept the bout. It’s also unknown if the UFC perhaps gave Gaethje a heads-up a few weeks ago that he might be in play to get on this card.
Whatever the case, BetOnline has posted odds for Ferguson-Gaethje, listing Ferguson (25-3 MMA, 15-1 UFC) as a -170 ‘chalk.’ Gaethje is a +145 underdog.
What we do know is that a slew of fighters have volunteered on social media today to face Ferguson or be on the card in any form or fashion. Again, UFC 249 is scheduled for April 18. The venue hasn’t been announced.
We’ll be updating this fluid story in the coming hours and days, so stay tuned to MajorWager for developments. Here are a few of the fighter tweets down below: