If there is anyone to blame for UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov getting stuck in Russia, it’s Dana White.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Nurmagomedov was expected to defend his title against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18 at an undisclosed location. However, he would later pull out of the fight after he was stuck in Russia following the implementation of a cross-border travel ban.
“The Eagle” claimed he was told the title fight would take place in Abu Dhabi. However, upon arrival there, the borders were closed. And having been told the fight would not take place in the United States at all, Nurmagomedov opted to go home to Russia instead of returning Stateside which later led to him being ruled out.
In the end, it would have been redundant as UFC 249 was eventually postponed and is now set to take place tomorrow night in Jacksonville, Florida, with Ferguson taking on Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title. Even if Nurmagomedov was able to travel to the United States, he would have not competed as Ramadan is underway.
But that didn’t stop many from blaming Nurmagomedov or accusing him of running from the fight at the time. Regardless, the Dagestan native plans on returning soon and White sprung to his defense in a recent interview.
“I’m sure you saw today, Khabib posted, ‘hey, as soon as Ramadan is over, I’m ready to roll,'” White told BT Sport on Thursday. “So, there was a lot of questioning Khabib, people were saying ‘oh he got trapped in Russia’ or whatever — what he said is absolutely true. None of us saw coming what happened and how fast it was rapidly changing and the world, the world was literally changing by the day. And we all made some bad decisions that got him stuck in Moscow. It wasn’t just him — we all did. I take responsibility for that too.
“You know, it happened. You know what we get out of that? We get Gaethje versus Ferguson which is gonna be absolutely ridiculous.”
It remains to be seen if Nurmagomedov will be able to compete later this year amid the ongoing pandemic.
But as White mentioned, he does seem eager to return as soon as possible.