The UFC is still desperately trying to salvage UFC 249, even though it appears likely that Khabib Nurmagomedov is out thanks to being stranded in his home country of Dagestan.
The April 18 event was set to feature the undefeated Nurmagomedov (28-0) defending his title against American Tony Ferguson (25-3). It’s arguably the most highly anticipated fight in UFC history, as both men are riding double-digit win streaks. Their matchup would be a first in UFC history in that regard.
The fight, originally slated for New York, was expected to see one of the largest betting handles in MMA history.
With Nurmagomedov looking to be out of the event, the UFC is considering replacing him with American Justin Gaethje (21-2), according to reporting from ESPN.
Khabib-Ferguson latest on SportsCenter pic.twitter.com/wBmgzGNXmj
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 30, 2020
There’s no location for the card yet, but the UFC’s Dana White said last week that the organization has a handful of places in mind. Florida has been floated as a possible location.
Wherever the fight happens, it would be without spectators.
New Jersey sportsbook moves quickly
PointsBet, one of New Jersey’s online/mobile sportsbooks, appears to be the first legal/regulated book in the state — and possibly in the country — to post odds for Ferguson vs. Gaethje. PointsBet has Ferguson listed as a -200 favorite, versus +160 for Gaethje.
Ferguson is a +230 underdog against Khabib (-300).
PointsBet doesn’t have any props available yet for Ferguson vs. Gaethje.
On paper, it would likely be a barnburner, as Gaethje is one of the lightweight division’s most exciting fighters. With no other major sports taking place in mid-April, the Ferguson-Gaethje bout would draw significant handle for legal/regulated online sportsbooks in the U.S. The handle would more than likely be less compared to Nurmagomedov being on the card, but it surely would be a welcome sight for those desperately searching for some live sports and for bettors looking for some entertainment.
UFC 249 is still slated to be co-headlined by a rematch between Jessica Andrade (+160) and Rose Namajunas (-200). They first fought in May 2019.
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