Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov said there should be a location for UFC 249 sooner than later.
Nurmagomedov said he spoke to UFC President Dana White on Monday and was assured the promotion will do everything in its power to preserve his highly anticipated title fight with Tony Ferguson.
”We’ll see,” the champ said on an Instagram chat hosted by his manager Ali Abdelaziz. “Next couple of days, Dana’s going to send us location.”
As of now, the UFC doesn’t have an official host for the April 18 pay-per-view event, which originally was scheduled to take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. White on Monday vowed to make the event happen despite the coronavirus pandemic that’s shut down every major sporting league, though he said it likely won’t be within the U.S.
Nurmagomedov has been training uninterrupted for the event as the pandemic continues to worsen, as MMA Fighting previously reported. On Tuesday, he said he has no preference for where the fight takes place – as long as it happens.
”We need maximum 100 people inside the arena,” he said. “Close the arena, 100 healthy people come inside and make the show. Put the camera on pay-per-view, and everybody can fight. People who are quarantined and (are sitting) home, they’ll have fun and watch fights.
”I think we just need 100 people to make this fight. Put the camera on and show who’s the best lightweight of all time. This is a very important fight, and this is why I like the UFC’s politics. They always try to make the best versus the best.”
White and his team have scrambled to preserve the promotion’s spring schedule. On Monday, he said the UFC was prepared to move forward on Saturday with a Fight Night event – originally scheduled for The O2 in London – on Native American reservation land in Oklahoma. But when the U.S. implemented a new restriction that blocked incoming travelers from the U.K. and Ireland, the card lost more than half its talent. After a recommendation from president Donald Trump nixed gatherings with more than 10 people, the event was canceled.
In addition to scuttling Saturday’s event, the UFC announced the indefinite postponement of two other events originally scheduled for March 28 in Columbus, Ohio, and April 11 in Portland, Ore. But UFC 249 has remained on the calendar.
Nurmagomedov said the preservation of the fight is crucial for the division he reigns.
”This is a very important fight, because the lightweight division has to move,” he said. “Right now, you have a couple guys who have (six, seven-fight) win streaks. A lot of contenders are coming. I don’t want to hold the lightweight division. We have to fight Tony Ferguson and know who’s the next contender. This is very important, not just for me, (but) the UFC lightweight division. That’s why I really want to fight with him.”