The scheduled date for UFC 249 is still the same, April 18 (April 19 AEDT). Yet, the location for a highly anticipated showdown between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson is yet to be announced.
Nevertheless, UFC President Dana White has been working hard in order to make the fight proceed on the planned date. He recently said that the new location was 99.9% done, yet did not reveal its name.
The original venue Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY was cancelled amid coronavirus pandemic. Most of the governments worldwide ordered a ban on mass and public event gatherings of more than 100 people. In the US it is limited to 10 people. The travel ban is also in effect.
Russia has recently announced plans to completely close its borders from Monday. This could turn to be the major blow for UFC 249 headliner, since the reigning lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov returned home for the final weeks of his fight preparation.
According to reports, the only place in Europe that is yet to establish solid restrictions (measures) on travel and gatherings is Belarus. The country is not only bordered with Russia, but makes up a 50% of the Union State. The latter means that citizens of both parties have the right to travel and live freely within the territory of the other party. In simple words, there is no actual borders between the two.
UFC 249 Location: Speculation
One can say such idea is quite idiotic, but UFC 249 could indeed take place in Belarus.
If the major question is to get everyone in the same room, this shouldn’t be a problem.
In summary, if Nurmagomedov would end up behind the shut borders in Russia, he should still be able to travel to Belarus.
For Ferguson, it would, however, mean a quite long travel across the sea, and a potential issue to cross the US border on the way back.
Then, it would be a question of getting the actual fight accommodated locally. This would include local commission (Belarusan Federation of Pankration and Mixed Martial Arts), TV broadcast and live stream, and other logistics and organizing aspects.
Minsk Sports Palace, that held WKN World Grand Prix “Big-8” in 2009-2011, could be the venue. It fits 3,311 people. Yet, here we are talking about a few dozens or so.
For those not familiar with Belarus – former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski was born in Belarusian city Babruysk. Former UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk earned her World Kickboxing Network women’s bantamweight title back at the Sports Palace in the city-capital, Minsk.
In the circuits of combat sports, Belarus is widely considered as one of the strongest in Muay Thai. The country is yet to host a single UFC event, but the popularity of MMA is on the rise.
The actual UFC 249 location is expected to be officially announced by the promotion. At this stage, Dana White, who has “four or five locations right now“, is “not telling the media anything” (watch video).