'Any place, I don’t care': Khabib desperate to make Ferguson fight happen despite coronavirus chaos
Khabib Nurmagomedov is down to fight Tony Ferguson “any place” as the pair’s long-awaited showdown at UFC 249 comes under increasing threat of cancelation from the coronavirus pandemic.
The undefeated Russian lightweight champ and American challenger Ferguson were due to face off in Brooklyn on April 18, in what is the fifth time they have been paired together.
The previous four bouts have all fallen through due to injury or illness to one or other of the duo – and the fifth meeting now seems equally imperiled after swathes of sporting events were scrapped around the world due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
That includes the next three UFC events – scheduled for March 21 in London and March 28 and April 11 in Las Vegas.
The Khabib-Ferguson headliner at UFC 249 has not yet officially fallen victim to the crisis, and promotion chief Dana White vowed this week that the fight “is going to happen” – but admitted that it “probably will not be in the United States.”
One man just as desperate as White to make the fight happen is Khabib, who said on Tuesday that he doesn’t care where he throws down with Ferguson – simply telling White to “send him the location.”
“Honestly I don’t care,” the Russian said in an Instagram live chat with manager Ali Abdelaziz, MMA Junkie reported.
“It’s going to be good if a fight happens in the US because I am here already for like a one-and-a-half month.
“I’ve been training, and from this day we have like 30 days before the fight. Almost one month, and it’s going to be very good if we fight here in the US. But if not, any place. Any place, I don’t care.”
The Dagestani grappling phenom also suggested that the UFC 249 card could get around restrictions on public gatherings, but so long as everyone was healthy.
“The most important thing is to be healthy. If we’re healthy, our family is healthy – this is the most important thing right now. We have to take care of ourselves," he said.
“But if we’re healthy, OK, on this card, we have 13 fights. That’s 26 fighters and their corner. If they’re healthy and the UFC people who make a show, like judges, athletic commission and everything – we need a maximum 100 people inside the arena.
“Close the arena, 100 healthy people come inside and make the show. Put the camera, turn on pay-per-view, and all of us can make money. Everyone can fight.”
Khabib’s preparations appeared to take a blow this week with the news that the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) gym that he trains at in San Jose, California, had been closed due to coronavirus mandates.