The highly anticipated showdown between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson officially needs a new home.
On Wednesday, the New York State Athletic Commission shut down any chance UFC 249 could happen at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as the entire country continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Out of an abundance of caution and in line with recent guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control and New York State, the New York State Athletic Commission informed the UFC that UFC 249 cannot be held in NY.,” the commission confirmed in a statement sent to MMA Fighting following an initial report from the New York Times.
The move from the New York Commission wasn’t unexpected but this shuts the door on any chance that the UFC could still hold the upcoming event in Brooklyn as scheduled.
Just days ago after the promotion was forced to cancel their next three shows due to the outbreak of COVID-19 across the United States, UFC president Dana White promised that the fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson would move ahead as scheduled — even if that meant securing a location outside the United States.
“This fight’s going to happen,” White said after announcing UFC cards on March 21, March 28 and April 11 would be cancelled..
“No crowd. Whatever it takes. Probably not even going to be in the United States, but this fight’s going to happen.”
For his part, Nurmagomedov said during an Instagram live chat on Tuesday that he was just awaiting word from the UFC on a new location as he continues to prepare to defend his title on April 18.
”We’ll see,” Nurmagomedov stated. “Next couple of days, Dana’s going to send us location.”
It was always a longshot that UFC 249 would still take place in Brooklyn with the city and state of New York shutting down mass gatherings as well as gyms and other high traffic areas in order to slow down the spread of the deadly disease.
Late Wednesday evening, the UFC released a statement acknowledging plans to move the event out of Brooklyn while offering refunds to ticket buyers. The search for a new location and venue will continue.
“UFC is planning to move forward with UFC 249: KHABIB VS. FERGUSON in April,” UFC officials said in the statement. “The event will not take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as previously announced. The decision was made in accordance with guidance issued by the New York State Athletic Commission, as well as in accordance with restrictions by New York State limiting large public gatherings.
“Additional details, including location and venue, will be announced when confirmed. Barclays Center ticket holders may seek a full refund at the point of purchase. Internet and phone orders will be automatically cancelled and refunded. UFC looks forward to returning to Brooklyn at the earliest opportunity.”