Khabib Officially Out of UFC 249, Gaethje as Probable Replacement

The fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson has been canceled for the fifth time. The UFC 249 is without its original headliner.

Nurmagomedov Stuck in Russia

What many expected, and what was indicated for a long time, eventually happened. Khabib Nurmagomedov announced that he won’t be able to travel outside the Russian Federation and that his clash with Tony Ferguson is not possible at the moment. He would confirm that the bout was canceled.

“I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight,” he stated via an Instagram statement.

After an agony surrounding the headliner of the UFC 249, things are clear now, although it is not the way the fans would have loved it. It is the second time that Khabib had to withdraw from the contest. The first was in 2015 once he injured his rib. After that, Ferguson backed out on three occasions. In 2016 he had lung issues, during the next year he would develop a kidney problem, and finally, in 2018, El Cucuy tore his knee ligament after an awkward accident which saw him tripping over a cable just one week before the event.

Ferguson is arguably the only fighter according to many experts, able to stop Khabib and his unbeatable row. His toughness and versatility are something which could present a problem to the Russian Eagle, and the fact that he hasn’t lost a bout in years speaks for itself.

The champion said during his Instagram addressing that he never wanted this to happen, while on the other side, Ferguson stated that Nurmagomedov “bailed out” and that he deserves to be stripped of his title.

Just to remind you, Khabib stated that he had information from the UFC, which suggested that the event might take place in the United Arab Emirates. Due to that, he and his team left the United States and the American Kickboxing Academy, where Nurmagomedov prepared for the clash. After reaching the UAE, they found out that the borders in that country are about to close. The entire team proceeded to Russia, where the same measure was imposed.

Gaethje First in Line to Replace Khabib

Now, some sources are saying that the “Highlight” as the fans call him, already accepted the offer and that the only thing which separates him from this fight is the official confirmation from the organization. Gaethje was challenging Conor McGregor this winter after he defeated Cowboy Cerrone, offering himself to be the next opponent of the “Notorious.”

His proposal wasn’t accepted, because Conor wants Khabib and the rematch against the champion. The way things stand now, he will have to wait for that to happen.

It is still unclear whether will UFC organize Khabib vs. Ferguson during the first available date or simply walk over that and continue to arrange fights for Nurmagomedov’s title defenses with some other rivals. If that is the case, McGregor’s chances for the rematch are much better. But first, we need to see what happens with UFC 249. Even though Gaethje doesn’t have too much time to prepare, he possesses the skill to endanger the veteran rival.

If, by any chance, the Highlight wins, the lightweight UFC division would look much different.