UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will not be part of the next UFC card Image Credit: AP

Dubai: It’s official! Khabib Nurmagomedov will not fight at UFC 249 on April 18.

And it has come from the horse’s mouth …

Dana White, the be-all and end-all at the UFC, has categorically denied rumours that the Russian will fight Tony Ferguson.

The internet has been flooded with all sorts of stories related to UFC 249 including damaging fake tweets and speculative news.

Dana White
Dana White Image Credit: AP

“Dana White and Vladimir Putin have reached an agreement on travel arrangements for UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to come to the United States. He will fight Tony Ferguson. It’s happening folks. #UFC249 will go on as scheduled April 18,” the unknown hacker posted.

White had no choice but to take to his Twitter account, @danawhite, to shoot back at a false tweet that used ESPN’s highly regarded MMA guru, Ariel Helwani’s account.

“Absolutely NOT true!!! The card is happening but @TeamKhabib is out. I will announce the entire card tomorrow (Tuesday),” the UFC boss replied.

On Sunday, Khabib sent out a message to the UFC that he was willing to fight anywhere in the world.

But with the fighter on quarantine in his native Dagestan, it seems impossible that he will be allowed to leave Russia until the pandemic is under control.

So, with time running out fast, it appears that Ferguson, the No. 1 contender in the UFC lightweight rankings will face Justin Gaethje in the headline event of a probable full fight card.

However, the bout isn’t officially signed yet.

The UFC has reportedly made a lot of changes to the event, which will be held behind closed doors at an undisclosed location on April 18.

It is speculated that it could take place on the West Coast of the United States, where thoroughbred horse racing has been taking place uninterrupted despite the outbreak of COVID-19.

But, Ferguson told ESPN he is still considering what to do with so much of uncertainty surrounding the event.

“It doesn’t matter who we have. We’re gonna try to make this thing go,” he told the broadcaster.

“At least some of the people in the world have a little bit of hope. The guys that are really doing it are the doctors and the nurses and the people taking care of everybody. If we can do our little bit of part to try and make something happen, I’m down with that,” he added.

UFC 249 was originally scheduled to take place in Brooklyn, New York but the State Governor has banned all sporting events in the city due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Expected fight card UFC 249

Main card

TBA vs. Tony Ferguson

Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas

Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar

Karl Roberson vs. Makhmud Muradov

Preliminary card

Lyman Good vs. Belal Muhammad

Uriah Hall vs. Ronaldo Souza

Khama Worthy vs. Ottman Azaitar

Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Ciryl Gane

Ben Rothwell vs. Gian Villante

Sijara Eubanks vs. Sarah Moras