Tony Ferguson has demanded Khabib Nurmagomedov vacate his UFC Lightweight Championship after Khabib revealed he was to withdraw from UFC 249.
Khabib announced via social media on Wednesday that he was in quarantine in Russia and wasn’t prepared to travel out of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Russian was supposed to clash with number one contender Ferguson in the headline fight at UFC 249, earmarked for April 18. However, the event is yet to have a confirmed venue.
It is remarkably the fifth time a fight between the two has been cancelled.
Nurmagomedov took to Instagram: "I understand everything and I'm definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others. I had many plans after the fight, but I can't control it all."
Ferguson responded in kind, via ESPN: “The guy does not want to fight. He’s scared; he’s running. He should be stripped of his title. It’s defend or vacate; that dude needs to be stripped.”
Alternative venues are currently being discussed after the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was dropped. Abu Dhabi has been suggested but since quashed. Now White et al will have to discuss another opponent for Ferguson in the headline bout.
The likes of which include Justin Gaethje, despite the American being slated to take on Conor McGregor in the summer. McGregor’s name has also been in the mix as a potential opponent for Ferguson.
Of this, Ferguson stated: "It doesn't matter who we have. We're going to try to make this thing go. At least some of the people in the world have a little bit of hope.
"The guys that are really doing it are the doctors and the nurses and the people taking care of everybody. If we can do our little bit of part to try and make something happen, I'm down with that."
The clash was set to be one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history, with both fighters on a 12-fight win streak. Khabib is unbeaten in his 28 professional MMA bouts whilst Ferguson hasn’t been beaten since 2012.
"He obviously knew what he could do to help save this card,” Ferguson said. “He didn't want to take any of those chances. Everybody is taking risks trying to do it. He bailed out, man. It's pretty hard to explain, but he bailed out.
"You ran, bro. You listened to your pops and you did everything you possibly could to avoid a whooping. Nobody else deserves that whooping besides two people: that’s McNuggets and Team Tiramisu. That’s Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.”
Khabib also wrote the following on Instagram: “The greatest countries and the largest companies of our time are shocked by what is happening; every day the situation changes unpredictably. But Khabib still has to fight, is that what you saying? Take care of yourself and put yourself in my shoes."
Khabib’s last outing in the Octagon was his second defence of the lightweight title against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi.
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