Khabib Nurmagomedov's father has said his son's UFC showdown against Tony Ferguson could take place in Dubai on April 18.
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov told Russia's RBC Sports (h/t Jed Meshew of MMA Fighting) UFC 249 might take place in the United Arab Emirates amid concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
"Most likely it will be Dubai," Abdulmanap said. "Firstly, it’s easier to fight diseases because of the heat. And I think the Emirates will pay for the UFC fight faster and easier. Abu Dhabi may well be, but then, [that’s up to] Dana White. I can’t approve, but there are more chances there."
The coronavirus pandemic has seen global sporting events cancelled or postponed, but UFC President White has said he's determined for Nurmagomedov's fight with Ferguson to go ahead.
White told ESPN's SportsCenter on Monday he's cancelled the UFC's next three events, but Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson will happen even if there's no audience present:
"Tony Ferguson versus Khabib Nurmagomedov is still on. That will happen. We're going to follow these guidelines, not have more than 10 people in a room. We're hoping this all clears up by April, and this fight is going to happen. Whatever it takes, probably not in the United States, but this fight is going to happen. Obviously, the President just spoke to the country and basically said -- it started at [no more than] 50 people in a room, which made [Saturday's UFC Fight Night in Brasilia] difficult, but we complied, we took all fans out and made sure as few production people in the room as possible, we pulled it off last Saturday. Now, they're saying there should be no more than 10 people, and that's impossible."
The fight will be one of the biggest in MMA history. The lightweight title bout will be the fifth time the pair have been scheduled to battle, but their previous contests have been cancelled four times.
Each fighter is a lightweight legend, with both men holding an incredible 12 consecutive wins in the division. Nurmagomedov remains the champion after an undefeated career, and Ferguson was last beaten in 2012 after losing to Michael Johnson. An eight-year winning streak has seen the 36-year-old obliterate most of his opponents via submissions and knockouts.
Ferguson is expected to provide Nurmagomedov with the toughest challenge of his illustrious 12-year MMA career.