It almost seems unthinkable, but it's now looking likely that Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson won't go ahead at UFC 249 next month.
As everyone now knows, the coronavirus is spreading around the world and ripping through countries at a growing speed, putting all sporting events and social gatherings on hold for the time being.
Football around the world has stopped, Formula One races have been postponed, boxing fights have been cancelled and the Grand National won't be going ahead either.
However, one event that is still clinging onto hope that it can get the green light is UFC 249 and the mega-fight between Khabib and Ferguson. Why is there hope? Well that's because president Dana White is adamant he won't cancel because of the ongoing epidemic.
Instead, he wants the event to go ahead as normal despite what's going on in the world. Although he's keen on getting this fight FINALLY over the line, and yes we say finally in capitals because we've been in this situation four times previously, he probably needs to realise that a cancellation is looming.
For the event to go ahead, White would have to make it happen behind closed doors and would also need to take drastic measures to ensure people are safe and are not putting their wellbeing at risk.
No fans being in attendance for arguably UFC's biggest fight would be a real shame, but it seems like that is what White is prepared to do.
Now, a current UFC fight in Ben Askren has weighed in on the situation and he believes he has the perfect solution.
“The one thing I said last night was, let’s not get greedy, Dana, let’s make this really simple,” Askren told Submission Radio recently (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“All we need is Tony and Khabib, we don’t need an f*****g undercard. So, in America they’re doing 10 people maximum, you can’t have more than 10 people in a group. So, you’ve got Tony, Khabib, three judges. But, you could also have the judges be remote. So, you don’t actually have to have them there. Your referee, you have Dana, you have Bruce Buffer and you have Joe Rogan maybe.
"Maybe we take the judges out and make the judges remote at a remote location and we give them each two coaches or something, or one coach.
"I think there’s a way to do it to keep it under 10 people and broadcast it.
“It’s awesome. Please, please don’t cancel it.”
So, is that the answer? Or is even that too much of an ask for UFC?
It's a real tricky time for all sport, and especially White given the fact that his company's biggest fight was right around the corner, however, health and safety must come first.
It would also be a real shame if White does decide to go ahead and put it behind closed doors, because let's be honest, sport without fans is nothing.
- Khabib confident White will soon have location for UFC 249
- What we know about UFC schedule during coronavirus
- First official promo for Khabib vs Ferguson has dropped