Dana White & Khabib Nurmagomedov. Photos: MMAnytt, Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Dana White defends Khabib Nurmagomedov after UFC 249 critique

"I never thought I would see that in my lifetime"

After enduring criticism from both fans and fighters alike, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov received some support from Dana White.

Despite a hailstorm of problems facing it, UFC 249 will happen. Despite it seeming like the event would have to be cancelled, it seems the UFC have found a solution. It will simply happen without lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. He was originally scheduled to defend his title against longtime rival Tony Ferguson.

Nurmagomedov formally withdrew from the event, after having travelled back to his native Russia – Which shortly thereafter closed its borders, implementing a travel ban. He was later replaced by Justin Gaethje, who will now face Ferguson for the interim title. This led to intense criticism from both fans and fighters.

Ferguson was swift to slam Nurmagomedov: “The guy does not want to fight,” Ferguson said. “He’s scared, he’s running. He should be stripped of his title.”

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Nurmagomedov’s arch rival Conor McGregor also chimed in, not easing up on his former foe.

“The fact of this matter is, both Tony and Khabib where engaged in a game of chicken here towards the fight bell,” McGregor wrote. “With Khabib chickening out first. Making it 3-2 in pullouts in Tony’s favour.”

However UFC president Dana White defended Nurmagomedov in an interview with TMZ.

“It is not Khabib’s fault,” White said. “It’s not anybody’s fault. This is not something you can prepare for, plan for or anybody can dream this is possible. Las Vegas is shut down. No casinos are open for a month or maybe more. I never thought I would see that in my lifetime.”

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With roots in muay thai and as an avid combat sports fan, Sebastian Vendel-Martinez grew up while the MMA scene was blossoming in Sweden. He became part of the MMAnytt team in 2012 and has gone on to become one of the most prominent MMA reporters in Scandinavia. Currently he continues to work as a writer, reporter, video producer/editor and head editor for MMAnytt.com
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