MOSCOW, April 6. /TASS/. Russia’s UFC Reigning Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will substituted by American professional mixed martial artist Justin Ray Gaethje in the UFC249 fight for the interim lightweight belt against US fighter Tony Ferguson, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Dana White said on Monday.
Hence, Nurmagomedov will retain his title.
The venue of the bout scheduled for April 18 has not been disclosed. Originally, it was supposed to take place in New York City but was relocated due to the coronavirus situation.
Nurmugamedov said earlier he would not take part in the tournament unless he knew its venue beforehand.
"The fight is signed and is 100% ON LIVE on ESPN somewhere on EARTH," White wrote on his Twitter account. "Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje April 18th for the interim lightweight belt!"
UFC Reigning Champ Nurmagomedov
In early September last year, Nurmagomedov defended his UFC champion’s belt for the second time in a title unification bout in Abu Dhabi against Dustin Poirier of the United States. The Russian defeated his US opponent with a choke in Round 3.
The 31-year-old Russian fighter, nicknamed ‘The Eagle,’ currently holds an unblemished record of 28 wins in all of his mixed martial arts fights (8 by KOs, 10 by submission and 10 by decision).
Khabib Nurmagomedov, hailing from Russia’s North Caucasus Region of Dagestan, was the first Russian to win the UFC champion title during the fight against his US opponent Al Iaquinta in the spring of 2018.
On April 8, 2018, Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta in a five-round fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight belt in New York.
At the UFC 229 tournament in Las Vegas in October 2018, Nurmagomedov defended his champion’s title in the fight against Conor McGregor, a renowned Irish professional mixed martial arts fighter and boxer.