Photos: Per Häljestam/Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports / Instagram-@khabib_nurmagomedov

Khabib Nurmagomedov stranded in Russia – UFC 249 title bout in danger

"They are looking to organize [UFC 249] with or without me. OK, go ahead."

As Russia closes its borders, it now seems that UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is stranded due to a travel ban. 

That the Covid-19 outbreak has greatly affected sports plans would be puting it mildly. The European Championships in football (soccer) are pushed forward, and even the 2020 Olympics may very well be pushed to next year. The sport of MMA has also taken a hit, as most promotions are forced to shut down events. The UFC cancelled three events, but despite that, the organisation’s president Dana White is steadfast in his belief that UFC 249: Khabib vs Ferguson will proceed. The event culminates in a lightweight title fight that is also the most anticipated bout of the year. There is a problem though: lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is stuck in Russia – As a travel ban has been laid out for the nation.

Nurmagomedov left for his home country last week, however shortly after Russia implemented a travel ban both in and out of the nation. There have been hopes that perhaps the lightweight champ left Russia in time, though he made it clear during an Instagram live (Via RT Sport), that he is stuck in Russia.


“Then the UFC told us that the fight 100% isn’t happening in the States. And they said that 99% that it will happen in Emirates, Abu Dhabi.

“After talking to the UFC we decided to fly over to the Emirates a month before the fight. I don’t remember the exact date, it was 19th or 20th, I’ll have to check. But when we landed in Emirates we learned that they are going to close borders. And no one will be able to leave or fly in, with exception for residents.

“So we had to fly back to Russia. Currently I am in Dagestan and I am training and preparing every day. Although I don’t know what am I preparing for. Because after we came to Russia we also learned that the borders are going to be locked. Same like in the States, same like in Europe, Emirates, everywhere. The whole world is in quarantine right now.”

“Organize it with or without me”

According to Nurmagomedov, the plans are to continue with UFC 249 – Even though the reigning champion most likely wont be able to fight at the event.

“So now I am hearing that they are looking to organize it with or without me. OK, go ahead,” he said.

Nurmagomedov has been booked to face Tony Ferguson four times previously. Due to unfortunate circumstances such as injury or illness, the bout has been called off time and time again. Now both are seemingly healthy, and aside from the current pandemic all things pointed towards the fight going down.

White has been stubborn in his certainty that UFC 249 will happen. While it may very well still go down, it will probably do so without Nurmagomedov.

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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