UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov completed a stunning reversal on Thursday when he told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that he was “100 percent” willing to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18.
One-hundred percent I’m gonna fight,” Nurmagomedov said. “Just give me location.”
Khabib told ESPN he just needs two things from the UFC: the actual location of UFC 249 and a way out of Russia, which closed its borders last week amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Like right now if they give me location, if I can come out from Russia and I can go to any countries like U.S., Abu Dhabi, doesn’t matter,” Nurmagomedov said.
“I’m gonna fight 100%.”
How Nurmagomedov’s Message Completely Changed
That’s shockingly different than the message Nurmagomedov posted on social media earlier in the week. In fact, after reports emerged Nurmagomedov potentially had a way out of Russia, the 31-year-old MMA star quickly posted on Instagram that he was going to follow the rulings of global health officials by self-quarantining instead.
Nurmagomedov posted, “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, 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?”
But by Thursday Nurmagomedov’s message had completely reversed.
“Everyday I send Dana White message: ‘Hey, where’s my location?’ You know, like this is not my mistake,” Nurmagomedov said. “And you know, too many crazy stuff, too many questions. I don’t have answer. Like I understand people upset because this fight is like dream fight for fans.”
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Nurmagomedov Hails Facing Ferguson as ‘Dream Fight’
Nurmagomedov told Okamoto that facing Ferguson at UFC 249 was his “dream fight” and that nobody would lose more from the champion not being able to defend his title at UFC 249 than Nurmagomedov would.
“This is my dream fight. I lose money. I lose so much money. I lose so much things you know. Nobody lose like I lose. Nobody. I lose so much things you know. I want to fight,” Nurmagomedov said.
Moreover, the undefeated powerhouse reaffirmed why facing Ferguson was so important to him and why he chose to face the 37-year-old American over other potential opponents.
“This why I choose this fight. Because this is hard fight. Because this is legacy fight. Because this is like number one fight for fans. Biggest fight in UFC right now. You know, of course I can choose easy fight with chicken but I choose hard fight. And you know, everything could happen. I can’t control this,” Nurmagomedov said.
Nurmagomedov on Ferguson: ‘We’re Gonna Fight’
Nurmagomdov doesn’t know when or how he’ll get his hands on Ferguson but absolutely believes the fight will still happen at some point in the future. Heck, judging by his reversed messaging, it might still be possible that the champ still manages to find a way to UFC 249 on April 18.
“I believe we’re gonna fight. I swear to God. I don’t know but I have feeling we’re gonna fight. Just wait. We’re gonna fight. I really believe. Nobody want this fight like I want. Nobody. I swear nobody want like I want this fight,” Nurmagomedov said.
But even if it can’t happen at UFC 249, Nurmagomedov told Okamoto that he would’t let any other fight get in the way of Nurmagomedov-Ferguson, not even that lucrative rematch against Irish superstar Conor McGregor everyone in the company seems to want but Nurmagomedov.
“You know, but UFC try to make me vs Conor rematch … I tell them this guy don’t deserve–bye-bye–this guy don’t deserve,” Nurmagmoevo said. “I can make with this chicken five time more money than with Tony Ferguson. And, you know, most people don’t know about Tony Ferguson nothing. Friends they know.”
UFC 249 is still scheduled for April 18. The main event is unknown at this time and the location has also not yet been revealed.