"He never can do nothing with me. Inside the cage, he is zero. When we fought, what did he do? He did zero."@TeamKhabib questions "fake" Conor McGregor saying he is in fighting shape. (via @bokamotoESPN) pic.twitter.com/DxhX7qINfb— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 3, 2020
Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov is sick of the MMA community attacking him for the UFC 249 headliner cancellation.
Nurmagomedov first wrote a statement on Wednesday expressing his frustrations about his UFC 249 match with Tony Ferguson being scuttled. He explained that he was “staying home in quarantine” while regretting that he “can’t control it all.”
Later that day, Ferguson harshly criticized the champ on ESPN, claiming that Nurmagomedov was not only “scared” and “running,” but that the title should be stripped from Nurmagomedov. Not to be outdone, on Thursday, Conor McGregor entered the fray by posting on Twitter that Nurmagomedov was “chickening out.” Some of the MMA community has turned on Nurmagomedov as well, claiming that he is responsible for the fight is not happening, or that his reasoning keeps changing.
Nurmagomedov hosted an Instagram Live session on Thursday where he responded to some of these critics. He defended himself by explaining that the promotion has not given him a destination for the fight card, which makes planning incredibly difficult.
“We talk about where we going to fight,” he stated (transcription via MMA Fighting). “U.S., Europe, Emirates, Asia, whatever, but nobody knows location, but everybody wants I fly somewhere. UFC don’t show us location. Where we going to fight? This is what I’m talking about. I don’t understand this. The UFC tried to find a location last almost one month. They don’t find. What about me? This is my mistake?”
Concerned that the community was pinning the blame solely on the Russian and not on the global pandemic shutting down countries, Nurmagomedov was apoplectic.
“You know what’s interesting? My name is Khabib, I am not coronavirus. My name is not coronavirus,” he exclaimed. “But the number one thing that makes me crazy is when people say I pull out or I do something. I [don’t] understand this. I’m still training since December. I train very hard since December.
“Everybody sit home and they try to find someone, they have to put pressure on someone. Because people [are bored]. Soccer closed, hockey closed, NHL, NBA, soccer, Olympic games, European championship, everything is closed. Now Tony vs. Khabib, this maybe closed too. Now they have to boo someone.”
While not specifically aiming at any individual to his criticisms in his Instagram Live video on Thursday, he later had a direct response to former opponent McGregor. Speaking to ESPN on Thursday night, Nurmagomedov reminded McGregor of their previous meeting. The two squared off at UFC 229 on October 2018, and “The Eagle” forced the Irishman to surrender due to a rear-naked choke in the fourth round.
“What happened like Oct. 6,” asked Nurmagomedov. “What happened 2018, when you have six months training camp before the fight? You do everything what you can and you come inside the cage, you talk a lot of things, a lot of bad things before the fight. Six months, you train very hard, you come inside the cage and you tap like chicken.”
UFC 249 still currently has no location, although UFC President Dana White remains vigilant that the event will still take place on April 18. White has claimed that he has a new location “99.9 percent set.” Oddsmakers released odds on possible venues for the event, including Florida, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. However, Florida is out due to a statewide stay-at-home order, while the UAE and Russia have both closed borders and suspended air travel to and from the countries.
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