Initially, Khabib Nurmagomedov was expected to go up against Tony Ferguson to make the third defense of his UFC Lightweight Championship at this event. However, he had to pull out due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nurmagomedov-Ferguson fight has come to be known as the most cursed match in the history of combat sports. This is the fifth time this fight has been scheduled, and then not taken place, in five years. The previous instances of the bout between the two best lightweights in the world being shelved are:
— 2015: The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale: canceled when Khabib bowed out due to a rib injury.
— 2016: UFC on Fox 19: canceled when Tony withdrew eleven days before the fight due to a lung issue.
— 2017: UFC 209: canceled when Khabib was hospitalized because of problems with cutting weight.
— 2018: UFC 223: canceled when Tony tripped over a cable and tore his lateral collateral ligament, requiring surgery.
This brings us up to date with UFC 249 happening in 2020. Khabib Nurmagomedov was to face Tony Ferguson for the UFC Lightweight Championship. Both are on 12 fight winning streaks in the UFC, both are among the top 10 pound for pound fighters in the world, and both are among the greatest lightweights of all time. And now the match has been canceled, again, for the fifth time, due to a pandemic that no one saw coming.