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Is Khabib vs Tony Ferguson a Cursed Fight?



MMA fans are growing increasingly fearful that Khabib Nurmagomedov’s fight with Tony Ferguson will be cancelled for a fifth time due to coronavirus fears. The fierce rivals are due to lock horns at UFC 2019 in Brooklyn on April 19.

However, the sporting world has been hit by a raft of event cancellations as authorities scramble to contain the rampant coronavirus, and UFC fans fear Khabib vs Ferguson could be the next casualty.

A History of Disappointment

A wise scholar once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Nurmagomedov and Ferguson may start to feel that this fight between them is never going to happen, and that it is crazy to even try.

The first bout was supposed to take place at The Ultimate Fighter 22 finale in December 2019, but a rib injury forced Nurmagomedov to withdraw. El Cucuy tangled with Edson Barboza instead, and won with a second-round submission.

The fight was rearranged for April 2016, and this time it was Ferguson’s turn to pull out due to blood in his lungs. Nurmagomedov decimated Darrell Horcher instead, and Ferguson returned with a thrilling victory over Lando Vannata two months later.

The eagerly anticipated fight was then scheduled for March 2017, but there were complications during Nurmagomedov’s weight cut and the fight was abandoned for a third time. Ferguson then tripped and tore knee ligaments when Conor McGregor attacked a bus carrying Nurmagomedov and various other UFC fighters, forcing the bout to be called off for a fourth time in April 2018.

A National Emergency

MMA fans were looking forward to the long overdue bout finally taking place next month, but they may now fear that it is simply doomed. The Trump administration has declared a national emergency to help authorities contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has banned gatherings of more than 500 people across New York. UFC 249 was due to attract thousands of screaming fans to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, so that was another blow to anyone hoping the fight will still go ahead.

March Madness has been scrapped, the NBA season is suspended indefinitely and so is the NHL and MLS, while the start of the MLB season has been delayed and the Masters golf has been called off too. It mirrors a trend that has been seen across the world, with major soccer, tennis, golf, cricket and rugby events scrapped.

However, there is a glimmer of hope for fight fans.

The Show Must Go On

UFC president Dana White has continued to defy the advice of medical experts, and he remains adamant that the promotion will maintain its event schedule. It staged a full fight card in an empty arena in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, on Saturday night. There were 12 bouts in total, including Charles Oliveira’s third round stoppage victory over Kevin Lee.

Cage Warriors 113 is slated to go ahead behind closed doors in Manchester (it was originally slated for London) on Friday night. The event has retained the majority of its bouts, including three world title fights. Some exciting fights were moved from the UFC London card, which was forced to relocate amid the Covid-19 outbreak, and the bout between Wales’ John Phillips and Serbia’s Dusko Todorovic is among those that will go ahead.

If White and his team can move heaven and earth to keep those sort of fights going, there is every reason to think they will try even harder to put Nurmagomedov and Ferguson in the Octagon together on April 18.

It is the biggest fight of the year by a long distance. Nurmagomedov is the pound for pound king of the UFC scene, with a flawless 28-0 record. Ferguson is potentially a top 10 pound for pound fighter, with 18 wins in his last 19 bouts and an overall 25-3 record. Nurmagomedov is the clear favourite in the fixed odds betting, but Ferguson has toppled many famous fighters in the past.

The Need For Home Entertainment

Nurmagomedov insists he is maintaining his usual training regime in anticipation of the fight with Ferguson. “UFC always finds a way,” said his manager, Ali Abdelaziz. “With or without fans this fight is going down people at home need entertainment.”

He is keen for the fight to go ahead following a fiery press conference earlier this month, which saw the Russian kick Ferguson’s belt off the stage. Ferguson is equally keen for the chance to finally end Nurmagomedov’s long winning streak and cement his own status as an MMA legend.

It may have to be moved from New York, but the UFC Apex complex in Las Vegas has been touted as an alternative venue. Fans will only believe the showdown is going ahead when they actually see the two men facing one another in the Octagon, but the promotion will do everything in its power to ensure that it goes ahead.


UFC 249 has a long and adventurous story



UFC 249 was originally planned to take place on April 18th in New York but, due to the ongoing pandemic, governor Cuomo restricted mass gatherings and sports events, confining everyone to their homes, leaving them with little more to watch than reruns of old fights and perhaps Game Changers. UFC president Dana White then announced that the event was still on but the location will change. Later, it was announced that it will take place at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California. ESPN and its parent company Disney didn’t like this, though, pressuring White to suspend the event for the time being – which he did. Finally, the event was rescheduled for May 9

Meanwhile, interesting news started circulating about a potential location for future UFC fight nights that, if it becomes a reality, might put an interesting spin on the world of mixed martial arts.

UFC Fight Island

Even before the issues with the event, White planned to arrange a brand new location where fight nights could be organized: a private island where athletes could train and fight.

“All the infrastructure is being built right now and getting put in place,” he told the press back in April. “As we get closer to that, then I’ll start figuring out booking fights, getting guys ready. Plus, I can ship guys over there earlier, and they can start training over there, on the island. So, once that’s all in place – we’re looking at like a month – I’ll have that all put together, and guys can start training and can go there.”

The UFC is serious about it: it has already registered several trademarks around the “UFC Fight Island” brand, covering several types of goods, services, even jewelry. 

When, and Where?

The “where” is still a mystery. Although he spoke repeatedly about the arrangements being made for athletes to be able to train and stay on the island, White has not revealed its location yet. Some theorize that it may be somewhere in international waters so it could serve as a place where international athletes could stay without restrictions, perhaps off the coast of California. But this is just a theory – all will probably be revealed in due time.

The “when” is a bit less vague: White told the press that UFC Fight Island will be operational by June. It will have amenities like an Octagon on the beach, and hotels for the fighters to be lodged at. And most importantly, it will allow international fighters to participate in fights, even with the pandemic-related travel restrictions still in place.

The idea of an island dedicated to fighting may sound familiar – it was the topic of the 2006 martial arts movie “DOA – Dead or Alive” and 2007’s “The Condemned”, among others. Let’s hope this one will have a happier ending.

As for UFC 249 ‘Ferguson vs. Gaethje’, that event will now take place at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. 

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What Justin Gaethje’s past fights tell us about his chances at UFC 249



It’s fair to say that Justin Gaethje has firmly taken up the role of underdog ahead of his clash with Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on May 9th. The latest Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje betting offers present Ferguson as the clear favourite, after his opponent was drafted in at the last minute to replace Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is on lockdown in his home country of Russia. 

Gaethje is relatively inexperienced in the world of UFC, having fought just six times in the competition in the past. But his calibre from prior ventures in MMA, notably the World Series of Fighting, means that he is a fighter not to be trifled with, and while he won’t represent as formidable a challenge for Ferguson as Khabib would have, there is much to admire about the 31-year-old.

To understand fully Gaethje’s chances ahead of UFC 249, it’s important to analyse his performances in recent fights. Indeed, his past three bouts have resulted in impressive victories, with Gaethje winning Performance of the Night awards in two of those fights — against James Vick and Donald Cerrone respectively. 

But his UFC started off in disappointing fashion, with just one win from his first three fights. That victory came against Michael Johnson in the reality show The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption Finale, but from there he failed to gain a strong foothold in the championship. He suffered back-to-back defeats against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, including a knockout at the hands of the former, as he struggled to adapt to the competitive nature of the UFC.

Those defeats obviously shook Gaethje into life, because he has come roaring back in his last three fights, mustering up a trio of impressive performances to bring him to the level he finds himself at today, where UFC chief Dana White is drafting him to replace someone of the calibre of Khabib. 

The first of this trio of victories was a win over James Vick in August 2018, where Gaethje produced a fine display which silenced some of the doubters who had perhaps questioned his ability at the highest level. He won Performance of the Night for that one, and was then involved in the Fight of the Night the following March as he defeated Edson Barboza by knockout in Philadelphia. His most recent victory was a TKO triumph over UFC veteran Donald Cerrone in October last year, where Gaethje once again walked away with the Performance of the Night accolade. 

All three of his most recent wins have come via first round knockout or technical knockout, proof that Gaethje has the ability to overpower opponents in the opening stages of a fight. Of course, to do this against Ferguson will be a whole different ball game, as he is the most high-profile fighter Gaethje has faced so far, but perhaps the key lies in ensuring he comes out all guns blazing early on.

Gaethje’s Performance of the Night wins indicate that he is capable of producing a show-stopping performance on any given night. He is undoubtedly the underdog going into the fight against Ferguson, but with a few good wins now under his belt, who’s to say he can’t spring a surprise on May 9th and truly announce himself in the UFC. 

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UFC to provide a welcome sports fix for hungry fans



UFC 249 had promised to be a rare occasion of a sports event going ahead, but the April 18th showpiece ultimately fell victim to the coronavirus outbreak, and was cancelled. However, UFC chief Dana White is not one to be put out, and so came the recent announcement that there would be a series of UFC fight nights in May.

It’s a great chance for fans to see some sporting action, for fighters to keep in shape and perhaps make a name for themselves in these strange circumstances, and for people stuck in lockdown to have some alternative entertainment, something a bit different from Joe Wicks workouts or Zoom quizzes! Here, we look at why these UFC fight nights will be welcomed by so many people.

Live action

The sporting world has basically been at a standstill since the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the globe. It feels like an eternity ago that we were watching horse racing’s Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League, but the measures put in place by the government to protect the public meant that most events had to be cancelled. 

And so, the news that there will be some live sporting entertainment in the form of several UFC fight nights will give sports fans that much needed fix of live action. Sports nuts all over the world have been forced to make do with virtual championships and races, or with trawling the archives to reminisce on past sporting occasions, but now White and co. have brought some welcome live sporting action back to our screens.

Mouth-watering match-ups

Of course, these are not just any old fighters going head to head. Some of the best in the business will be battling it out, not least Tony Ferguson who takes on Justin Gaethje on May 9th. The Tony Ferguson odds have him as hot favourite for the bout, but Gaethje will be a man on a mission on fight night to prove he has what it takes to cause a stir at the highest level of the sport. 

May 9th sees two other interesting clashes, as Henry Cejudo takes on Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight Championship, and Francis Ngannou meets Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The Cejudo vs Cruz fight features two men with similar records, and will therefore be an intriguing clash as both try and prove themselves on the big stage. Meanwhile, Rozenstruik will be trying to defend his 10-fight unbeaten record as he takes on Ngannou, and so there will be plenty on the line in that one.

A welcome distraction

Perhaps one of the key benefits of these fight nights is that they will provide a welcome distraction from the sad news and gloomy headlines we’ve all been reading in recent weeks. Sport has the power to unite people and spark a feel-good factor among the public.

Although the UFC may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s a chance for a lot of people to get to know a sport they perhaps wouldn’t have considered watching before, and few sports have to power to grip and entertain like mixed martial arts. Many people are craving a dose of live sporting action, and thanks to the UFC, that sporting fix is not too far away.

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