Tony Ferguson thinks Khabib Nurmagomedov should be stripped of his title after the lightweight champion announced Wednesday that he would be staying in quarantine in Russia and not competing at UFC 249, which is scheduled for April 18.
“Obviously, I was very upset,” Ferguson told ESPN after Nurmagomedov posted the news on his Instagram page. “I feel more for everybody else that’s actually going through some hard times. It’s a little bit different, of course, I’m a little bit pissed. He had the opportunity to stay here. He was in Abu Dhabi, he had his chance to be able to come back before the borders were closed in Russia. Decided to go back to Dagestan, did not finish his camp. The guy does not want to fight. He’s scared, he’s running. He should be stripped of his title.”
UFC president Dana White has insisted in recent weeks that UFC 249 will go on as planned on April 18 despite COVID-19 concerns, although not in its original location of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Nurmagomedov said during an Instagram live stream earlier in the week that he had been training in California before the UFC told him his fight with Ferguson would likely end up taking place in Abu Dhabi and not in the United States. Nurmagomedov explained he flew to the United Arab Emirates approximately one month out from the fight but due to UAE border closures Nurmagomedov wasn’t granted entry. Instead of flying back to the U.S., the undefeated champ flew home to Dagestan to continue training but once he was there Russia closed its borders.
This marks the fifth time a scheduled matchup between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson has been scrapped since 2015.
Ferguson has reportedly been offered a fight with Justin Gaethje but it’s not his first choice because he isn’t impressed with Gaethje’s 4-2 record in the UFC.
The 36-year-old didn’t completely dismiss the notion of fighting someone besides Nurmagomedov on short notice though.
“If we can do our little bit of part to try and make something happen, I’m down for that, but obviously, this is a worldwide pandemic,” Ferguson added.