UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was supposed to be making final preparations for his third title defense against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on Saturday. However, the COVID-19 global pandemic made Nurmagomedov pull out of the show, which turned the event into a tailspin before it ultimately got postponed Thursday.
The question is, when does Nurmagomedov return? He begins Ramadan on April 23 and told ESPN recently that he'll need 45 days to recover properly before he could resume training. On Sunday, Nurmagomedov took to Instagram and gave an update (translated to English) as to when he'll step back into the Octagon.
"But until September, it's not too far, though," Nurmagomedov said. "It's hard to believe everything will end by September. But yet one serious person said: 'That in the peaceful time (sic) you have to prepare for war.'"
In the middle of March, Nurmagomedov left his training camp at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., after reportedly being told by the UFC that UFC 249 would likely be taking place in the United Arab Emirates. After getting into the country, Nurmagomedov was told to leave because the UAE was going to be closing its borders, and no one would be able to leave or fly out.
The 31-year-old flew back to Russia to be with his family and continued to train. Ultimately, though, Nurmagomedov decided health and safety were more important than squaring off with Ferguson.
The UFC replaced him with Justin Gaethje to face Ferguson for the interim 155-pound title at Tachi Palace Casino Resort, which is on tribal land, in Lemoore, Calif. But after receiving backlash from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and California governor Gavin Newsom, and receiving a call from high-ranking officials at Disney (parent company of ESPN) and ESPN (which broadcasts the UFC events), UFC president Dana White postponed all UFC events indefinitely.