For weeks now, the coronavirus has played havoc with the UFC’s schedule, forcing the organization to indefinitely postpone three events and putting one of the biggest events of the year, UFC 249, in jeopardy. On Wednesday, Nurmagomedov himself put the final nail in the coffin for that proposed dream fight by releasing a statement, presumptively pulling out of the fight.
Dana White is seemingly still intent on moving forward with UFC 249, but even if he is able to pull it off, it may only be a brief reprieve for the UFC President, as some marque fighters are starting to follow suit with Nurmagomedov and rethink fighting amidst a global pandemic. Derrick Lewis has come out publicly against doing so and now, former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier seems to be trending in that direction as well.
Poirier is currently scheduled to face Dan Hooker as the main event of UFC San Diego on May 16, but speaking with ESPN recently, Poirier said he does not believe that event will take place, given the current climate. And that might not be a bad thing because at this point, training for a fight is nearly impossible.
“I don’t think so. I really don’t,” Poirier said. “I don’t have that feeling. Honestly, there’s no way to properly prepare. I can’t get inside - I have my own personal gym here in Louisiana, I can hit the bags and I have another buddy, two buddies who I train with there, who are social distancing themselves as well so I trust that they are not bringing the fungus among-us in our gym, but other than that, I’m there hitting the bags and rolling with those guys or I’m at my house. So I can’t really - I can jog and stuff, I can get in shape, but to be fine-tuned for a fight at the highest level, I can’t do it.
“I don’t know what my opponent is doing, as well. I don’t know if he’s not being able to train. So May seems like a push, but we’ll see.”
It’s an interesting situation. Though UFC San Diego is still over six weeks away, the coronavirus pandemic and governmental reactions to it may continue for some time. Most states in the United States have enacted some rules to restrict large gatherings of people, hindering training. Also, California is expected to extend its current moratorium on combat sports events until the end of May, which has already caused Bellator to postpone two events planned for California in May. According to Poirier, the UFC is still telling him things will take place as normal, the only change he’s been notified of is that if the UFC does move forward with his event, it definitely won’t take place in San Diego.
“So even if I would leave right now and go to Florida at this point . . . who is gonna be at the gym training?” Poirier asked. “I talked to Mike Brown [Head Coach at American Top Team] and he told me that they’re doing one training partner and one coach at a time, so you have to plan ahead and it’s only for people with scheduled fights. So the gym, by law, can’t be run like it was being run.
“They’re telling me to prepare. . . That’s the only info I do know. They told me if May 16 goes through, it’s going to be in a different U.S. city.”
All of this, of course, creates a serious burdens on fighters who can no longer train and prepare for fights as they normally would. That’s especially true for top-ranked fighters like Poirier, for whom it creates an even bigger risk of losing, aside from the increased health risks that come from attempting to fight during a global pandemic. For now, Poirier says he’s still down to face Hooker on May 16, but it’s certainly less exciting than a possible short-notice fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, if that opportunity did present itself.
“In the midst of what was happening yesterday, an opportunity like that, I’m of course, 100 percent jumping on,” Poirier said in reference to him offering to step in at UFC 249. “No disrespect to Dan Hooker, but guys like him are going to be around. Opportunities like that are going to be there always, for the rest of my career, to fight up-and-coming good guys who are on a streak, fun match-ups. That’s always gonna be around. I just want to be 100 percent prepared, that’s all. I like the fight, and I’m down with the fight, but I just want to be prepared.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
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Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight, it turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine, governments of all countries, famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements in order to limit the spread of the disease, to save people, and Khabib is the only one relieved of all obligations and must demonstrate free will and train flying around the world, for the sake of fight? - 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. 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. - Сижу дома на карантине и читаю реакцию людей на ситуацию вокруг моего боя, получается весь мир должен сидеть на карантине, правительства всех стран и известные люди всего мира призывают людей соблюдать требования безопасности, чтоб ограничить распространение болезни ради спасения людей, а Хабиб, освобождён от всех обязательств и должен демонстрировать свободу воли и тренироваться летая по всему миру рискуя своей жизнью ради боя ? - Я все понимаю и точно не меньше вас расстроен отменой боя, наверно у меня , как и у всех других, было много планов после боя, но я не в силах контролировать все это. Сверх державы и крупнейшие компании нашего времени в шоке от того, что происходит, каждый день ситуация меняется непредсказуемо. Но Хабиб все равно должен драться, так получается? - Берегите себя и поставьте себя на мое место.
A rational man.
Middle of a pandemic, countries locked down, irregular training, increased personal stress.— Damien Brown ダミアン・ブラウン (@beatdown155) April 1, 2020
“He’s scared, he running, he should be stripped of his title”
Sure Tony settle down son. Everyone wanted this fight but no one is surprised #UFC249 https://t.co/PdXiYncI4d
A good question.
Just terrible April Fool’s.
My wish of becoming the first intergender world champion and winning my third UFC Belt will finally come true. @BulletValentina get ready to #bendtheknee to Triple C! #UFC249 #andstill pic.twitter.com/zsA8Nuex8x— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) April 1, 2020
Congratulations are in order.
Helpful home training tips.
Here's some ways to work on head movement while you're stuck at home. pic.twitter.com/vzkin7Gbne— Ben Sosoli (@BenSosoli) April 2, 2020
So yesterday was my 1,000th TMR and today marks my 4-year anniversary with MMA Fighting. Big week for me and I thank you all for sharing it. See y’all tomorrow.
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