Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has returned to Russia to finish his UFC 249 training camp according to reports.
‘The Eagle’ is expected to defend his title against Tony Ferguson on April 18 at a venue yet to be decided. However, many fans now fear the highly anticipated bout will be one again scrapped amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Since 2015 the pair have been booked to face off on four previous occasions but have never actually fought.
The ongoing global crisis has forced the majority of MMA gyms to close its doors, including American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, where Nurmagomedov usually closes out his fight camps.
Javier Mendez, head coach at the gym, told ESPN last week his facility was only open for the Russian champion ahead of UFC 249 to keep him healthy and get him prepared for the fight ahead. “Just Khabib. That’s it. Nobody else is allowed. No one is coming. Just Khabib. We’ve gotta keep it safe for him.”
Now, Nurmagomedov has returned to his homeland to complete the rest of the fight camp, Russian outlet TASS reports. This move could give some indication about the geographical location of his upcoming fight with Ferguson.
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, the father of Khabib, has previously said he believes the fight will take place in Dubai. Speaking to RBC Sports (via MMA Fighting), he said.
“Most likely, it will be Dubai. Firstly, it’s easier to fight diseases because of the heat. And I think the Emirates will pay for the UFC fight faster and easier. Abu Dhabi may well be, but then, [that’s up to] Dana White. I can’t approve, but there are more chances there.”
If Abdulmanp is correct, Khabib’s move to finish his camp in Russia makes complete sense. By doing so, he has saved himself a gruelling 20-hour flight amidst the biggest fight of his life.
Does Khabib Nurmagomedov moving his camp to Russia confirm UFC 249 will take place in Dubai?