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Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov were scheduled to face off at UFC 249 despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that forced major changes to the event.
Now that Nurmagomedov has officially retired to quarantine in his native Russia, Ferguson is asking the UFC to withdraw the light title from the defending champion, telling ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that Nurmagomedov is “scared and running.”
UFC 249 is scheduled for April 18, and President Dana White has said the map will continue despite the withdrawal of Nurmagomedov. Ferguson has pledged to stay on the combat map, although a new opponent has not been named.
“It doesn’t matter who we have. We will try to make it happen, ”said Ferguson. “At least some people around the world have some hope. The guys who really do it are the doctors and nurses and the people who take care of everyone. If we can do our part to try to do something, I’m with that. ”
Finding a replacement for Nurmagomedov could be the second biggest problem for White. UFC 249 was originally booked at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, but is no longer an option with the state issuing a “stay at home” order while the city remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
As White struggled to find a new location, Ferguson continued to verbally strike Nurmagomedov.
“He obviously knew what he could do to save this card,” said Ferguson. “He didn’t want to take any of those chances. Everyone takes risks trying to do it. He bailed out, man. It’s hard to explain, but he bailed out, man. “
It is now the fifth time that the two fighters have planned a fight only to be canceled before either can enter the Octagon.
Nurmagomedov has no regrets about the role he played this time. He made this clear in a long response posted to Instagram on Wednesday afternoon.
“I understand everything and I’m really more angry than you about canceling the fight, probably like everyone else, I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control everything,” wrote Nurmagomedov. “The biggest countries and the biggest companies of our time are shocked by what is happening, every day the situation changes unpredictably. But Nurmagomedov still has to fight, is that what you say? – Take care of yourself and put yourself in my place. “”