Khabib-Ferguson venue ‘99.9%’ set, White says


LAS VEGAS — The UFC is closing in on a location for its lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson on April 18, according to UFC president Dana White.

White told ESPN on Monday that the location is “99.9%” confirmed, though he did not wish to disclose it until it’s official. The UFC 249 pay-per-view event was originally scheduled to take place in Brooklyn, but the promotion had to alter its plans because of the impact of the coronavirus in New York.

“Trust me, Khabib has been telling me every day, ‘Send location,'” said White, referencing a line used by Nurmagomedov. “I have it. It’s 99.9%. On April 18, we are having this fight.”

White confirmed a recent report from Russian media outlet TASS that Nurmagomedov has flown back to Russia to finish his camp, rather than staying in California, where he trains out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose.

White previously said the 155-pound championship bout will likely take place outside the U.S. Multiple sources told ESPN that both Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have continued to train, despite the coronavirus’ effect on the world. Both were training in California when the state shut down all non-essential travel.

In addition to the main event, White said UFC 249 will still feature a full slate of preliminary bouts, despite the change in venue.

“Full card,” White said. “We’re going to face some problems, I’m sure. There are always problems with every card we put on, and with this situation, you expect there will be more, but we will still find a way to promote these fights. We always f—ing do.”

This is the fifth time the UFC has booked a fight between Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Ferguson (25-3), dating to 2015. Their fight has been canceled every time due to various injuries to both competitors. Nurmagomedov is 12-0 in the UFC, and Ferguson, a former interim champion, has won 12 in a row.

The UFC was forced to postpone scheduled events on March 21, March 28 and April 11, set to take place in London, Columbus, Ohio, and Portland, Oregon, respectively, because of the coronavirus, but White has maintained that UFC 249 will go on as planned.

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