The highly anticipated battle between unbeaten lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and the American Tony Ferguson faces the serious possibility of being cancelled by the coronavirus.
The fight is currently scheduled to take place on April 18 at UFC 249 in New York, however, if the COVID-19 virus does prevent the bout from going ahead, it will be the fifth time that it has been called off.
The pairs’ previous matchups have been put off due to Nurmagomedov suffering a rib injury in 2015 and the Russian also faced weight cut complications in 2017.
While Ferguson had to cancel the bout in 2016 because of an illness and in 2018 the American tore his knee ligaments.
When asked about the prospect of the event being cancelled the President of UFC Dana White said:
“When it comes to the safety of the athletes and the fans and everything else, no matter where we go or what we do, we’re always concerned.”
White has since posted a popular meme on his Instagram story feed with ‘what if COVID-19 cancels Tony vs Khabib’ as the punch line.
The coronavirus has already caused a number of high profile sporting events in America to be cancelled with the NBA and MLS Soccer league suspended until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the virus.
Major events around the world have also been altered by the outbreak, as Italy and Spain’s domestic football season are currently suspended until April 3, while the Champions League matches next week between Manchester City and Real Madrid and Juventus and Lyon have also been postponed.
Other sports such as the ATP Men’s Tennis Tour meanwhile are due to be halted for up to six weeks and the first grand prix of the season in Australia is likely to also follow suit.
Further global events are subsequently likely to be altered over the coming days and weeks.