Once Khabib Nurmagomedov took to his Instagram account Wednesday to announce that his UFC 249 fight against Tony Ferguson was off, you just knew that a reaction from his heated rival, Conor McGregor, wasn't going to be too far behind.
On Thursday, McGregor took to his Twitter account and blasted both Nurmagomedov and Ferguson for their lightweight fight being seemingly canceled for the fifth time.
The fact of this matter is, both Tony and Khabib where engaged in a game of chicken here towards the fight bell. With Khabib chickening out first. Making it 3-2 in pullouts in Tony’s favour. Khab scurried out of the U.S to home, and amid the crisis. Very high risk.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 2, 2020
Nurmagomedov, the UFC's reigning lightweight champion, is in Russia quarantining from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the country's travel ban as the reason he's pulling out of the fight. The prior four cancellations were due to either injuries or illness, and McGregor gave the 3-2 edge to Ferguson over Khabib, as the dominant lightweights have never been able to step into the Octagon and actually fight each other.
Interestingly enough, McGregor's tweet was preceded by another tweet in which he boasted about his current fighting shape.
I am in shape to fight right now!— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 2, 2020
At the beginning of all this, I said to myself - I’m happy I don’t have an official fight booked. If I did, I would have consumed all the incorrect data to support me taking part in the bout, and I would have followed through, competed. And won.
maybe there's a third option...— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) March 31, 2020
Back in January during the buildup toward his UFC 246 main event against Donald Cerrone, McGregor said he would be willing to step in and replace one of the fighters, given their history for "not making that walk" to the Octagon to face each other.
McGregor's words Thursday followed Ferguson calling on the UFC to strip Nurmagomedov of the lightweight title Wednesday.
“He was in Abu Dhabi, had the chance to be able to come back (to the United States) before the borders were closed in Russia," Ferguson told ESPN. “He decided to go back to Dagestan, he did not finish his camp. The guy does not want to fight, he’s scared, he’s running. He should be stripped of his title.”
Justin Gaethje has been the reported fighter to most likely replace Nurmagomedov to fight Ferguson at UFC 249, although the bout hasn't been finalized yet.