UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has hinted his title defense against Tony Ferguson is off with an Instagram message in which he hints the worst is yet to come in the UFC 249 saga.
The UFC’s lightweight ruler seemed in high spirits as he and his training team posed for a photo wearing medical masks and drinking coffee in an airport.
The gang, which included fellow MMA fighters Islam Makhachev, Tagir Ulanbekov and cousin Umar Nurmagomedov were making their way home to Russia from the US, where the champ had been training for his fight with Ferguson on April 18.
“It was a fascinating journey, which isn’t over yet. This is just the beginning,” the 31-year-old captioned his photo on Instagram.
“However, health is paramount. Take care of yourself and your family, sport can never be placed higher than life. Just in case – my coffee is a vanila!”
The group were heading back from their training base at the San Francisco, California headquarters of the American Kickboxing Academy after the facility closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under Russian law they must now comply with a 14-day quarantine imposed on all Russian nationals returning from abroad.
The Khabib versus Tony matchup is one of the few sporting events still scheduled to go ahead as planned, although not in its original venue of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center after New York banned gatherings of more than 500 people.
UFC head honcho Dana White has still stubbornly insisted the fight will go ahead, but was forced to admit than NYC is not a tenable option anymore.
“I do (know where the fight will be),” he told reporter Kevin Iole on Instagram Live.
“But I’m not ready to tell you yet. I know lots of things. There’s not going to be any fans there. It’s going to be a closed event.”