- Khabib Nurmagomedov is stuck in Russia and says UFC 249 may go on without him
- Justin Gaethje is favored to be Ferguson’s opponent on April 18
- Could Conor McGregor sneak in and save the event?
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the sports world, UFC president Dana White has been adamant that UFC 249 will go on as scheduled on April 18 at a location to be announced. The main event is between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
Yet, the promotion was dealt a massive blow on Monday morning. On Instagram Live, Nurmagomedov announced that he is stuck in Russia (which has closed its borders) and his participation at UFC 249 is in jeopardy.
Following the news, “El Cucuy” took to social media to say the champ was hiding from him. Reports soon surfaced that Justin Gaethje has been offered a fight with Ferguson on short notice.
Sportsbooks then opened odds on Ferguson’s UFC 249 opponent.
Odds on Tony Ferguson’s UFC 249 Opponent
Odds taken March 30.
Why Is Gaethje Heavily Favored?
It is not surprising to see Gaethje as the favorite given the recent news. He appeared to be in line to fight the winner of Ferguson-Nurmagomedov anyways. So, it makes sense to do that scrap now and have the winner of that fight face the champ later on.
Justin Gaethje: "They called me to fight Tony (Ferguson) on four weeks notice and I can't do that." pic.twitter.com/5QBhf4zZ5x
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) July 4, 2019
But Gaethje has not taken short-notice fights in the past and even turned down Ferguson at UFC 238 on four weeks’ notice.
The chances of accepting this fight on just two weeks’ notice are slim in my opinion. Gaethje is in a good spot; he could be fighting Conor McGregor next, and the payday from that fight would be bigger than this one.
For now, at -110, he is not a good bet.
Is There Any Chance McGregor Sneaks In?
Conor McGregor is the exact opposite of Justin Gaethje: he will take on a short-notice opponent or fight on short notice if needed. But, unfortunately for him, Ireland is on lockdown due to the pandemic so it is highly unlikely he’ll even be able to leave the country for this fight.
That is a big problem White will face in trying to make this event happen; he will need fighters in the United States. As things stand right now with COVID-19, McGregor doesn’t have a shot of fighting Ferguson on April 18 at UFC 249.
Who’s The Best Bet?
If I had to guess, I’d say Tony Ferguson will not be fighting April 18. Instead, he will wait for Nurmagomedov, which is the right choice career-wise. The only person who on the board with reasonable odds is Donald Cerrone at +600.
Ferguson beat “Cowboy” at UFC 238 by doctor stoppage. He said he was open to an immediate rematch due to the way the scrap ended. Cerrone has also said he is open to fighting on April 18 so at +600 all the value is on Cerrone to be fighting Ferguson at UFC 249.
Pick: Donald Cerrone (+600)