The fact of this matter is, both Tony and Khabib where engaged in a game of chicken here towards the fight bell. With Khabib chickening out first. Making it 3-2 in pullouts in Tony’s favour. Khab scurried out of the U.S to home, and amid the crisis. Very high risk.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 2, 2020
Tony Ferguson is not the only Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter upset by the headliner of UFC 249 changing.
On Thursday morning, Conor McGregor posted on Twitter to dig into Khabib Nurmagomedov for withdrawing from the April 18 card. Nurmagomedov officially pulled out of the fight on Wednesday, although it was expected earlier in the week that the fight would not take place as planned.
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been scheduled to face each another five times, with each axed for various reasons of illness and injury, including this matchup ending due to concerns for the coronavirus. They were first booked at the TUF 22 Finale in 2015, and Nurmagomedov injured his rib and was replaced by Edson Barboza. In 2016, they were planning to clash at UFC on Fox 19, but this time Ferguson withdrew when he injured his lung. The third planned encounter was for UFC 209 in 2017, but a hospitalization for Nurmagomedov due to bad weight cut led to a weigh-in day cancellation. The fourth pairing went down before UFC 223 in Brooklyn, when Ferguson injured his knee by tripping on a cable after an interview.
Ferguson similarly lashed out at Nurmagomedov on ESPN on Wednesday night, attacking Nurmagomedov for declining to fight. The interview with Ferguson showed the former interim champ calling Nurmagomedov “scared,” “running” and that the lightweight title should be stripped from the Russian.
The organization still does not have a destination for UFC 249. While the UFC has been considering Florida as a potential place for the card, that does not seem likely given the “safer-at-home” order issued by Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday. Additionally, an option of the United Arab Emirates may also be unreasonable, as the country has locked down its capital city of Abu Dhabi.