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Morning Report: Dana White takes responsibility for Khabib Nurmagomedov missing UFC 249

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Dana White
Dana White discusses Jon Jones’ removal from UFC 200
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The last few months have been tumultuous for Dana White and the UFC. After cancelling three events in March due to COVID-19, White remained adamant that UFC 249 would take place as scheduled on April 18th. The UFC spent considerable time an effort to prove White true, changing locations, changing fights, implementing increased safety protocols on the fly, and generally scrambling to answer the constantly shifting problems that arise with attempting to hold a live sporting event during a global pandemic. In the end, though the event was postponed a few weeks. UFC 249 will in fact be taking place this weekend, but despite managing to keep UFC 249 alive, the event did suffer one major casualty: UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced off the card.

Nurmagomedov was supposed to defend his title against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, in one of the sport’s most highly anticipated fights ever. Instead, according to Khabib, a series of communication breakdowns resulted him being stranded in Russia, unable to fly out of the country due to coronavirus restrictions. Khabib’s withdrawal from UFC 249, has caused some backlash in the community, especially from his would-be opponent Tony Ferguson who claims that Nurmagomedov is “running” and should be stripped of his title. But Dana White disagrees. In fact, speaking with BT Sport on Thursday, the UFC President backed his champion and took responsibility for the situation.

“I’m sure you saw today, Khabib posted, ‘Hey, as soon as Ramadan is over, I’m ready to roll,’” White said. “There was a lot of questioning Khabib, people were saying ‘Oh he got trapped in Russia’ or whatever; what he said is absolutely true. None of us saw coming what happened and how fast it was rapidly changing and the world was literally changing by the day. We all made some bad decisions that got him stuck in Moscow. It wasn’t just him, we all did. I take responsibility for that too.

“It happened, and you know what we get out of that? We get Gaethje versus Ferguson, which is gonna be absolutely ridiculous.”

As far as consolation fights go, it’s tough to do better than Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje. The interim lightweight title fight will kick off an ambitious schedule for the UFC over the next month, who intends to hold two more events next week and then continue holding events on a regular cadence. If the UFC can pull it off, it will essentially make them the only game in town as the rest of the sports world has completely shut down during the global pandemic. And that is one of the reasons White says he was so adamant about getting back to the business of fighting, because he wants to be the one leading the way.

“I would imagine that live sports are watching us right now saying, ‘Let’s see how this thing plays out for them and maybe we’ll take some risks,’” White said. “Nobody ever wants to take risks. Nobody really wants to be first. Nobody wants to assume the responsibility of being first. My team, my athletes, we’re built for this sh*t.”

UFC 249 goes down on Saturday at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. In the main event, Tony Ferguson will face Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title, with the winner to face undisputed champion Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.


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It’s fight weekend! Been a long time since we could say that. Enjoy it y’all.

Thanks for reading, stay safe, and see y’all on Monday.



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