Dubai: Just when you thought that Khabib Nurmagomedov had ruled himself out of the intended April 18, UFC 249 showdown, the Russian has added a new twist to the ongoing drama by declaring that he is “gonna fight 100 per cent”.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the Russian flew back from the US to his native Dagestan two weeks ago after a failed attempt to enter Abu Dhabi during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown at UAE airports.
Soon after rerouting to his hometown, Khabib declared that he was pulling out of the April 18 fight against Tony Ferguson because he would not be able to leave Russia as its borders have also been shut.
However, it appears that ‘The Eagle’ is now having second thoughts and is desperate to make the fight happen in light of the big name fighters, including Conor McGregor and Justin Gaethje, entering the picture as his possible replacement.
“Give me location. I have to come,” Khabib told ESPN. “Right now if they give me location, if I can come out from Russia and go to any country like US, Abu Dhabi, doesn’t matter. I’m gonna fight 100 per cent.”
It would appear that the unbeaten UFC lightweight champion (28-0) has realised that the fight is slowly but steadily slipping away from him with all that has been happening over the past two weeks.
“I finished my training, because I have to be ready. It’s why I’m here. It’s why I signed contract,” Khabib said.
“They don’t have a location. Why I have to fly to US? Why can’t I fly to Japan or Asia or Africa. Maybe they can make it in Europe. Maybe they can make it in Middle East. I don’t know where I’m going to fight.
“Why fly to the US? For what? This is not my mistake. Coronavirus come to us. I don’t bring coronavirus. This is not my job.”
With the deadly virus having brought the sporting world to its knees, UFC President Dana White has been insistent that it would not prevent him from staging a mega event on April 18, behind closed doors.
The franchise successfully staged a UFC Fight Night event without spectators in Brazil on March 15 but another Fight Night programme scheduled for London on March 21 at the O2 Arena was called off.
On Saturday, Dana White held a news conference uploaded by MMWeekly.com on YouTube where he said: “We’re doing everything that we are being told to do by the Governor (of Nevada), the President of the United States. We’re doing everything we are supposed to do.
“We can put on a safe show with no fans. We can do it. We have the facility to do it. We have all the resources to do it. We can get this thing done.”
However, in a tweet posted on his @danawhite account, the UFC boss sent out a passionate plea to UFC fans to keep buying tickets and asking them to hang in there and in the process hinted that all was not good with his plans to stage UFC 249 on April 18.
“Once everything gets back to normal we’re gonna start cranking out some killer fights. You must be so sick of sitting at home right now you know you want to come on this trip.”
With the situation spiralling out of control it’s hard to say how things will pan out for Khabib v Ferguson, or for the UFC and its forceful boss.