Why Is Khabib out of His Lightweight Title Fight With Tony Ferguson?

This is the fifth time a fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson hasn't materialized, so why is the Dagestani not fighting?

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Apr. 7 2020, Updated 12:39 p.m. ET

khabib nurmagomedov
Source: Instagram

Stop me if you've heard this one before: The upcoming fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson isn't happening. If you're a big-time MMA fan, then the bout's cancellation probably won't come as a surprise, because it's a cursed contest. Both Tony and Khabib had previously pulled out two times apiece due to injuries/weight cutting issues. But why is the Dagestani Destroyer not fighting El Cucuy this time?

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Training facilities have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the "mountain man" trains in his native Russia, his training camps are often held in California at American Kickboxing Academy, a school that's known for not only producing top talent fighters, but utilizing hard sparring methods to get those results. Due to the litany of self-isolation and mild quarantining procedures set in place, gyms and other training facilities are all shut down, which means the quality of training Khabib's used to isn't available to the undefeated pugilist.

Due to the litany of self-isolation and mild quarantining procedures set in place, gyms and other training facilities are all shut down, which means the quality of training Khabib's used to isn't available to the undefeated pugilist.

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Source: Instagram

That's a stark contrast to Tony Ferguson's training regimen, which runs the gamut of bizarre, but wildly effective workouts. Not only does Tony not spar in his training camps, but he's uploaded strange videos of running obstacle courses of his own design, throwing monster truck tires around, sprawling everywhere, and lobbing fast balls in his home gym.

As much grief as Tony receives for his weird training principles, he's still one of the UFC's most feared combatants with a 25-3 record.

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The Team Death Clutch member is going to put his nearly 8-year win streak on the line against Justin Gaethje instead, because of all the geographical/traveling issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Up until recently, the location for the title fight wasn't booked. When AKA was shut down in California, Khabib decided to travel to the UAE, where the UFC was planning on booking the bout. However, he was not allowed in the country due to fears surrounding the virus.

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Khabib decided to head to his native Russia where he could at least be closer to his family and maintain a semblance of a training regimen for the bout until a location was set. But then news broke out that his home country was going on lockdown because of the pandemic, and the entire fight card was in jeopardy.

Where is UFC 249 being held?

UFC President Dana White was working like crazy to get the fight card booked, which led to him being vocally frustrated with the media (not an uncommon occurrence for the billionaire).

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However, he finally confirmed that in spite of all the speculation about calls to Vladimir Putin and getting Khabib out of the country somehow, he ultimately booked Tony against lightweight stand-out Justin Gaethje in an undisclosed, top secret location that may be home to several other UFC fight cards in the future.

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According to Dana White, the fights are going to take place on a private island that he owns and has been prepping the infrastructure for to secure bouts for all of the combatants on the UFC's roster. For UFC 249, Dana's going to fly the fighters in on a private plane so they can partake in the fight, and until the pandemic is over, it looks like all upcoming events will take place on Isle de Brawl. Its location is still undisclosed.

The entire fight card will not take place in front of an audience, which will be a weird thing for fans to get used to (unless you watched tons of bouts on The Ultimate Fighter previously), but this is hardly a pay-per-view that rests its laurels on the main event only. 

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Andrade vs. Namajunas will be epic, as will Hall vs. Jacare, Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik, Stephens vs. Kattar... seriously all of the names on this card are high-profile fighters who always bring the pain.

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Was Khabib stripped of his belt?

The UFC has a habit of awarding "interim titles" in fights whenever a champion can't compete for whatever reason. Because Khabib doesn't train hardcore during Ramadan and basically takes the entire month off, that means booking fights around that time are impossible for the Dagestani. 

This means that Tony wouldn't have had an opponent for a while if the UFC didn't get a replacement for Khabib. He will still hold on to his belt and is considered the "real" champion and then fight the "interim" champ later.

Whoever wins at UFC 249 will have the first crack at Khabib once he's ready to scrap again and the "real" champion will be crowned. So who do you got?

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