UFC 249: Saudi Arabia ruled out as location for Khabib Nurmagomedov v Tony Ferguson

Last week, UFC president Dana White insisted the event would go ahead behind closed doors, and that a venue was '99.9 per cent' secured

Russian UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov, right, fights with UFC fighter Dustin Poirier, of Lafayette, La., during Lightweight title mixed martial arts bout at UFC 242, in Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday , Sept.7 2019. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Khaled)

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s manager has shot down suggestions the lightweight champion’s fight with Tony Ferguson next month will take place in Saudi Arabia.

Speculation has continued mount as to where the much-anticipated bout at UFC 249 on April 18 will be staged – if at all – after it was moved from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn because of the coronavirus.

Last week, UFC president Dana White insisted the event would go ahead behind closed doors, and that a venue "99.9 per cent" was secured. A number of options have been discussed, both inside and outside the  US, with Abu Dhabi even suggested as a possible destination by Nurmagomedov's father and coach.

At the weekend, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya said he thought UFC 249 would take place in Saudi Arabia, only for Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz to reply on Twitter: “You’re wrong”.

With fewer than three weeks to fight night, there remains significant doubt as to whether the clash will happen – especially given the travel restrictions around the world in the face of the pandemic.

Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have agreed to face off four times previously, with a bout never coming to fruition, for various reasons.

The UFC has cancelled its three events leading up to UFC 249, although White has been adamant the promotion's biggest show of the year will go ahead.

Nurmagomedov, who is believed to be in his native Russia, is undefeated in his 28 professional fights in mixed martial arts, while Ferguson is riding a 12-fight win streak – as is the current champion. The No 1-ranked challenger, Ferguson holds a 25-3-0 record.

Earlier this month, White told The National"We do not have a location set for UFC 249. I'm focused all day every day to find a venue. Everywhere is an option for this massive fight including international locations or potentially Las Vegas. It's my only priority to find a location. This fight will happen."


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