For an unprecedented FIFTH time, the Khabib versus Tony fight will not be taking place on April 18th at UFC 249. This time around, it is a bit of a different story. The MMA Gods just simply do not want to see these two face off. Between conspiracy theories, untimely injuries, weight cuts, and global pandemics – one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history will have to wait.
The COVID-19 crisis has suspended travel to the United States, as a result Khabib has been restricted to his home country of Russia, despite Tony calling him out, but that is a whole other mental game. WOO! (tony stage spook)
Both fighters carry a laundry list of decorated feats and lengthy win streaks. As we all know, the “Eagle” is undefeated in his mixed martial arts career at 28-0, while the “Boogeyman” himself has won 12 straight fights, dating all the way back to 2013. This would easily be the toughest opponent each had ever face. But what exactly has been going on between these two fighter? Is there something UFC Dana White is not telling the fans about the power of the Lightweight Champions belt? Let’s dive into the timeline:
Fight #1: Dec 11, 2015 – The stage was set for these two to face off at the finale of the Ultimate Fighter 22. Khabib had been dealing with a nagging knee injury which kept him out of the cage for nearly 20 months heading into this match up. His next opponent was none other than, you guessed it – El Cucuy – what a pleasant return to the octagon. Nurmagomedov unfortunately pulled out of the fight six weeks prior due to a rib injury. Tony went on to face Edson Barbosa, which he disposed of with his signature D’acre choke in the second round.
Fight #2: April 16, 2016 – This time around it was Ferguson who pulled out of the match as he did not receive his medical clearance from the doctors when they discovered blood in his lungs – yikes. Khabib went on to finish Cage Fury Fighting Championships lightweight champion Darrel Horcher, who was debuting in the UFC and a fill in for Tony.
Fight #3: March 4, 20017 – With less than 48 hours away from the fight, fans were gearing up for the two to finally face off for the interim lightweight title at UFC 209. Former champ, Conor McGregor won the 155-pound title 4 months earlier, but took his alternate classic “mystic mac” approach to success. He had vacated the belt to focus on fatherhood and his upcoming boxing match against Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. (money machine go brrrr).
During the weight cut, Khabib had fallen ill and needed medical attention. The bout was then called off by the doctors, once again.
Fight #4: April 7 2018 – Okay, now this is an odd one. On April 1 (this is no Aril Fool’s joke kids), six days prior to their fourth scheduled bout, Tony trips over a cord while fulfilling media obligations. The fluke accident resulted in Ferguson tearing a ligament in his knee, effectively removing him from the fight. The UFC scrambled to find a new opponent for Nurmagomedov which ended in a unanimous decision over “Raging” Al Iaquinta.
If you have been keeping score, we are unofficially 2-2, advantage Khabib. So are we surprised by the most recent call off? No, absolutely not. Or at least it is ridiculous to think that a fight with this much hype could possibly take place at such desolate times as now.
Fight #5: April 18, 2020 – The global pandemic outbreak has forced the sports world to a screeching halt. UFC 249 should just get added to the list at this point. Dana needs to take some advice from the universe and postpone this event so the fans can finally get what has been brewing for over five years now and all related personnel remain safe.
What’s that saying…? “The sixth times the charm!”