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Khabib Nurmagomedov is baffled by the criticism he's received for withdrawing from his UFC 249 title fight against Tony Ferguson on April 18.
The UFC lightweight champion announced Wednesday he wouldn't be fighting at UFC 249 because he's stuck in Russia due to the coronavirus pandemic and related travel restrictions.
Since then, Ferguson has called for the promotion to strip Nurmagomedov of his belt for not doing everything he could to save the event. But Nurmagomedov believes the blame should instead be aimed at the COVID-19 outbreak, not himself.
"My name is Khabib. I am not coronavirus," Nurmagomedov said on Instagram Live on Thursday. "My name is not coronavirus. (UFC president) Dana (White) is Dana (White). Tony Ferguson is Tony Ferguson. My name is Khabib. The No. 1 thing that makes me crazy is when people say I pull out or I do something. I no understand this."
UFC 249 was uprooted from its original location of Brooklyn due to the pandemic, and the promotion has yet to finalize a new location. Nurmagomedov said he left the United States a week or two ago once the UFC told him the Ferguson bout was unlikely to take place in the country.
Nurmagomedov said he went to Abu Dhabi because the promotion told him there was a good chance the event would land there. But then he traveled home to Russia and now plans to self-quarantine.
"We come, they closed gate," Nurmagomedov said. "But this is not my problem.
"I don't have location," he continued. "That's why I'm not going to fight ... Give me location. Where are we going to fight? Nobody talk about this."
Nurmagomedov said he could return to the Octagon in August or September if the pandemic has subsided by then. He doesn't compete or train during Ramadan, which runs from April 23 to May 23 this year, and prefers to wait 45 days after the holy month to resume training.