Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is off the UFC 249 card due to the fact that he’s quarantined in Russia because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But his would-be challenger Tony Ferguson wasn’t having any of it.
Ferguson told ESPN on Wednesday that Nurmagomedov is “scared and running.” He also said that he should be “stripped of his title.”
The UFC already announced that it will move forward with the card, despite missing one-half of its main event. It looks as if Ferguson will stay on the card against a new opponent, who could very well be Justin Gaethje, another top lightweight contender. The offer has been presented to Ferguson, but the fight is not official by any means.
“It doesn’t matter who we have. We’re gonna try to make this thing go,” Ferguson said. “At least some of the people in the world have a little bit of hope. The guys that are really doing it are the doctors and the nurses and the people taking care of everybody. If we can do our little bit of part to try and make something happen, I’m down with that.”
A location is yet to be determined for the event due to the coronavirus. Most sports across the globe have canceled games, events and tournaments because of the pandemic.
Ferguson has made it clear that he’s always willing to fight “any time or anywhere.”
“He obviously knew what he could do to help save this card,” Ferguson said. “He didn’t want to take any of those chances. Everybody is taking risks trying to do it. He bailed out, man. It’s pretty hard to explain, but he bailed out, man.”
Nurmagomedov said he wasn’t going to break quarantine to fight Ferguson and was angered at those who were urging him to fight while Russia battles the outbreak.
“It turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine,” Nurmagomedov said. “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?”
The Associated Press contributed to the is report.