'We all made mistakes on that one': Dana White defends Khabib Nurmagomedov's UFC 249 withdrawal
Dana White isn't prepared to point fingers, but says that mistakes were made in their attempts to salvage the original UFC 249 main event between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and top contender Tony Ferguson.
It was formally announced this week that the Russian UFC champion would not be competing against Ferguson after coronavirus fears KO'd the fight for a FIFTH time.
But, with the show back on the road (at a still unrevealed location) and with Justin Gaethje stepping in to face Ferguson in an interim title fight in a new main event, UFC boss White says nobody is to blame for the latest chapter in the seemingly cursed Khabib-Ferguson rivalry.Also on rt.com 'I've got an island': UFC president Dana White says international UFC shows will be hosted offshore on a private island (VIDEO)
Nurmagomedov announced last week that health and safety measures implemented to fight the spread of the coronavirus had convinced him to put his health before his fight career and pull out of the contest.
This came hours after it was reported that select private flights were still being given permission to leave Russia amid the country's lockdown measures.
Nonetheless, White wasn't prepared to apportion any blame for what he sees as an impossible situation to control.
"Obviously everybody knows that the Khabib fight fell out," White told ESPN's Brett Okamoto.
"I could go on for ten minutes telling you how that whole thing fell apart, but the reality is that's nobody's fault."
"[Khabib] got caught up in Russia. It was a total mishap. We all made mistakes in that one. Nobody's to blame for that."@danawhite tells @bokamotoESPN about the difficulty of pulling #UFC249 together. pic.twitter.com/gga3JaRpqH— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 7, 2020
UFC 249 was first scheduled to take place in Brooklyn, New York, but the worsening COVID-19 situation in the Big Apple forced a change of plan – something that White says UFC brass have become acquainted to in recent weeks as they adapt to the ever-changing pandemic.
"Every day when I got up, the rules changed," White said.
"Every day. Things were shutting down, things were closing down. Many people thought that this would be impossible for us to pull off. I'm always of the mindset that nothing is impossible. We'll get this figured out, where there's a will there's a way."Also on rt.com Silver linings? Fans will mourn Khabib's removal from UFC 249, but Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje could serve up a barnstormer
Ultimately, though, the pandemic robbed the UFC of its featured attraction. Nurmagomedov, the undefeated lightweight champion and one of the most famous fighting names on the planet, was stuck in his native country and this appears to be White's most significant regret about the issue.
"He got caught up in Russia. It was a total mishap, we all made mistakes on that one. Nobody is to blame for that one, is it what it is. The fact that we can even pull off an event right now... This is the hardest thing I've ever done."