“100% On” – Dana White Confirms Khabib’s Replacement for UFC 249

UFC 249, the most up-in-the-air sporting event in recent memory is apparently “100%” on, according to president Dana White, but it won’t feature the headline fight we were all expecting. The proposed bout between lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson has been scrapped, with Nurmagomedov now being replaced by Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title in the main event.

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The UFC dropped the official fight promo on Monday, revealing that UFC 249 will go ahead on April 19 as expected, but provided no mention of a venue. In fact, reports suggest not even Dana White knows where the event will take place. Most US states have restrictions in place that would make it impossible for them to stage the event, even without an audience.

UFC 249 initially was slated for Brooklyn, but after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, a venue change became necessary. ESPN, the UFC’s broadcast partner, has said White is attempting to secure an unnamed venue on the West Coast for the show. If UFC 249 does go ahead, it won’t be the first closed-door card. The UFC held a full fight card in an empty arena in Brazil last month, before scheduling its three remaining shows.

The Ferguson v Gaethje bout will be big news, even if it isn’t the fight UFC fans wanted. “I’m terrified and I … love it,” Gaethje tweeted after the announcement. Ferguson, who is 25-3 is a longtime lightweight contender who has been booked to fight Nurmagomedov five times, all of which have fallen through. It appears while Khabib has once again evaded Ferguson, the UFC isn’t about to let a little thing like a global pandemic stop it from going ahead. Strange times.

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