Khabib officially withdraws from UFC 249 – Speaks out about the fight

"Put yourself in my shoes"

Regardless of what speculations and rumours have circulated Khabib Nurmagomedov will officially not be competing at UFC 249. 

The sports world has been hit hard by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The largest sports leagues in the world, such as the NFL and NBA, have been forced to cancel events. While the UFC has cancelled events, the promotion has strayed from others as president Dana White has been committed to having UFC 249: Khabib vs Ferguson go down. Despite location changes and other issues, White has maintained that the event will happen.

However with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov stuck in his native Russia due to a travel ban, it seems the UFC 249 match up is scrapped. There were rumours of Nurmagomedov getting special permission to make a trip to the United States on a special business flight. Whether or not that was possible, Nurmagomedov has now officially decided to sit this one out, something he makes clear in a post on Instagram.

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“Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight, it turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine, governments of all countries, famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements in order to limit the spread of the disease, to save people, and Khabib is the only one relieved of all obligations and must demonstrate free will and train flying around the world, for the sake of fight? – I understand everything and I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others, I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control it all. The greatest countries and the largest companies of our time are shocked by what is happening, every day the situation changes unpredictably.
But Khabib still has to fight, is that what you saying? Take care of yourself and put yourself in my shoes.”

Nurmagomedov’s sentiments echo those of many fans and pundits. While many have appreciated White’s intense desire to make the fights go down as scheduled, the ongoing pandemic and the long term effects it might have on society perhaps should take precedence. This is a very unique time in modern history and safety coming first is hardly a poor decision.

Tony Ferguson, who was scheduled to face Nurmagomedov at the event, has been offered a replacement fight with Justin Gaethje, though it’s not certain if all parties have agreed upon the bout.

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