(CNN)One of the most highly anticipated fights in UFC history is on hold yet again after Khabib Nurmagomedov announced he would be remaining in quarantine.
The undefeated lightweight champion had been scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18, but like many other sporting events, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with a fight that had been originally scheduled to take place at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York later this month.After returning to his home in Dagestan, Russia from California, Nurmagomedov said he wouldn’t be leaving even if UFC president Dana White comes us with a solution to stage the event.
“Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight, it turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine,” the 31-year-old said on Instagram. “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?”Read MoreREAD: Why Enes Kanter has more than just losing the NBA season on his mind
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson face off during the UFC 249 press conference.While a host of major sporting events have been postponed or canceled, White has been insistent that UFC 249 will go ahead in some form or other. With New York in lockdown as the city attempts to limit COVID-19’s effects, hosting UFC 249 in the United Arab Emirates had been mooted, though worldwide travel restrictions also make that idea look improbablyWhile he acknowledged his decision would not be to fans’ liking, Nurmagomedov told the mixed martial arts world to “take care of yourself and put yourself in my shoes.””I understand everything, and I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others, I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control it all,” Nurmagomedov said. READ: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson set for charity rematch involving NFL stars Tom Brady and Peyton Manning
Nurmagomedov interacts with media during the UFC 249 press conference.”The greatest countries and the largest companies of our time are shocked by what is happening, every day the situation changes unpredictably.”Nurmagomedov’s desire to remain in quarantine means that one of the strangest streaks in MMA history goes on — the Russian fighter and Ferguson have been booked to fight five times since December 2015, and the bout has never happened due to injury or illness.Ferguson has gone as far as to suggest that Nurmagomedov should be stripped of his title.”He obviously knew what he could do to help save this card,” Ferguson told ESPN. “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.”READ: Shin-Soo Choo pledges to give every Texas Rangers’ minor league player $1,000
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson face off during the UFC 249 press conference.”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.” Meanwhile, a number of other fighters have thrust themselves forward as potential opponents for Ferguson. Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features, and videos
Justin Gaethje has reportedly been proposed as a potential opponent, while welterweight champion Kamaru Usman volunteered to fight in the main event against Jorge Masvidal as a replacement.CNN have reached out to the UFC for a response.