Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC lightweight title fight against Tony Ferguson WILL go ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak, according to president Dana White.
Having worked with matchmaker Sean Shelby for five years to try to get the two in the octagon together, White was as dismayed as any fan to learn of the deadly virus spreading across the globe.
So far, there’s been a whole lot of aggressive and loud barking from Dana White about UFC 249, which he’s hell-bent on still making happen April 18 despite what feels like a global lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson means so much to the UFC president that he’s willing to take the risk of spreading COVID-19. Since there’s no safe or sane reason to do this, what else could it come down to but that?
One thing’s for sure: Joe Rogan will not be sitting cageside to commentate UFC 249. What’s not for sure is where in the world this pay-per-view will take place. That’s because White refuses to provide details, and the latest from an interview with Mike Tyson is that the UFC boss has “four to five locations” he’s working on.
UFC 249 Location
United Arab Emirates +300
Saudi Arabia +800
South Africa +1000
International Waters +2500
Area 51 +8000
North Korea +10000
1. Arena Mexico, Mexico City
The Arena Mexico has hosted plenty of lucha libre and professional wrestling events since it was first opened in 1956 and is a completely indoor venue.
Although it can host up to 16,500 people, the UFC would only allow the necessary personnel into the venue, such as corner teams, camera crews and commentators.
In 1968, it also hosted boxing as part of the Olympic Games so would be more than capable of welcoming an octagon to the hallowed halls.
Perhaps most importantly is the fact Mexico is way behind both Europe and the neighboring United States in terms of coronavirus infection rates.
Despite the continued drop of the peso, the government has tracked imported cases and put those people into quarantine. Schools have already been closed, people have been told to stay at home and a new superhero by the name of ‘Susana Distancia’ was created to support a new social distancing campaign.
2. TatNeft Arena, Russia
Khabib has returned to his home country having worked closely with coach Javier Mendez at the American Kickboxing Academy in California.
Russia has a population of 146 million people but has fewer recorded cases of coronavirus than Luxembourg. Just 253 people are infected according to the CIA World Factbook, although this number is expected to grow.
President Vladimir Putin was aggressive and direct from the outset in his stance on COVID-19, his draconian measures put in place because he shut down the 2,600-mile border to China.
Quarantine zones were set up as early as January 30 and more than 156,000 tests have been undertaken on potential victims, according to CDC figures.
The UFC has flirted with the idea of going to Russia for some time now, and what better time to create a relationship than by giving their hero a homecoming.
If the TatNeft Arena in Kazan (which has hosted boxing, kickboxing, and volleyball in the past) can open up it’s doors to the UFC, it would mean Khabib’s father would also be able to attend the fight.
3. ‘The Arena’, Abu Dhabi
As of March 23, there were a total of 198 recorded cases of coronavirus in the United Arab Emirates and strict lockdowns have been placed on non-essential services.
Although Yas Mall has been closed in accordance with these strict measures, ‘du Arena’ remains a possible venue. It is quoted by the construction team behind it as being the largest open-air venue in the Middle East and could hold 35,000 people.
UFC 242 was held in the outdoor venue as Khabib choked out Dustin Poirier, while there is also an indoor venue called ‘du Forum’ which can hold a more modest 4,500.
4. UFC Performance Institute, Shanghai
Officially unveiled in June 2019, the UFC Performance Institute could well host this fight to give fans perhaps the most authentic fight experience.
The world’s largest MMA training facility is three times the size of the original site in Las Vegas at 93,000 square feet and both fighters could isolate themselves within the complex in Beijing and technically never have to leave.
With state-of-the-art recovery facilities, a swimming pool, weights machines and saunas, there is everything both fighters could ever need.
Although the virus was first uncovered in China, the lockdown placed on Wuhan is set to be lifted on April 8. According to official statistics, China has beaten the coronavirus as health authorities have only reported one new locally transmitted case of COVID-19 in the past five days.
Cities across the country are following official orders to ‘fully restore’ production and resume normal life.
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