So many stories and public relation spins going on about the exit of lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov from UFC 249 that it hurts to move our necks.
He was in the USA, left, and then he stated that he could not return to the USA because Russia was on travel lockdown. Then it came out that a private plane would be approved but Khabib refused. Then that was debunked. Things were confirmed and then denied and then confirmed again. No one but the inner circle of all of this knows the truth of it. One thing we all know is that it is a giant mess that can easily be forgiven because of this unprecedented pandemic the world is struggling through. In the grand scheme of things, no matter how much we want to see Tony Ferguson finally fight the Russian – in the end it’s just a fight.
Dana White defied all odds and found a venue for UFC 249 and a replacement for Khabib in Justin Gaethje. A lot of speculation was going on this week that it would be Conor McGregor stepping in but instead we got someone who will literally fight Tony to the death inside the octagon. Stylistically it is far more interesting because of the aggression and the willingness to stand and exchange of both of these warriors. I would be shocked if this fight went the distance.
Yet again, Tony Ferguson will be fighting for the interim lightweight championship and not the undisputed. That doesn’t make it any less legitimate because if there is a fighter who can wear an interim belt and legitimize it that guy would be Tony.
Ferguson and Gaethje will battle it out on April 18th at UFC 249. I think all of us need at least 10 different confirmations before we dare to report the venue because God knows that could change multiple times, too.
Here was ESPN’s reporting of the announcement earlier.
Let the Khabib Imma-go-run off jokes continue.