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'I take responsibility': Dana White shoulders the blame for Khabib Nurmagomedov's absence from UFC 249 (VIDEO)

UFC president Dana White says that he was at fault for Khabib Nurmagomedov being unable to compete at UFC 249 after he admitted that the UFC lightweight champion followed his directives which led to him being 'stranded' in Moscow.

There was a grim sense of inevitability when it was revealed that the originally scheduled UFC 249 main event between Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson was postponed for a fifth time, with the latest crumbling of the bout not down to injury or suspension, but due to the repercussions of a global pandemic.

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The fight, originally intended to take place in New York in late April, entered a state of flux with the UFC scrambling to lock down a new short-notice location to host the event.

The organization reportedly looked into holding the fight in Abu Dhabi and advised Khabib to leave his training base in San Jose, California and return to Russia in advance of another trip to the Middle East. 

However, the event coincided with the implementation of several restrictions of movement and public gatherings designed to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus - leading to the UFC lightweight champion being stranded in his native country. 

And White says he deserves his share of the blame.

"I’m sure you saw today, Khabib posted, ‘Hey, as soon as Ramadan is over, I’m ready to roll," White told BT Sport.

"There was a lot of questioning Khabib, people were saying ‘Oh he got trapped in Russia’ or whatever; what he said is absolutely true.

"None of us saw coming what happened and how fast it was rapidly changing and the world was literally changing by the day. We all made some bad decisions that got him stuck in Moscow. It wasn’t just him, we all did. I take responsibility for that too."

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The latest failure to book a fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson comes with a very pronounced silver lining, however. 

"It happened, and you know what we get out of that?" White asked.

"We get Gaethje versus Ferguson, which is gonna be absolutely ridiculous."

The winner of Saturday night's main event is almost certain to be next in line for Nurmagomedov later this year, with a fight happening as early as July as speculated by the Russian fighter. 

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