On Wednesday, Khabib finally ended the will-they-won’t-they speculation around his proposed fight with Tony challenger Ferguson on April 18, announcing in an Instagram post he would not attempt to wiggle round lockdown measures imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, asking his fans to “put yourself in my shoes.”
Then during an Instagram live on Thursday, Khabib, currently in his Dagestan homeland after returning from the US following the closure of his California training base, addressed the many comments by fans which had advised him to fly out of Russia, asking the all important question: ‘where to?’
“Salam alaikum, where is everyone?” the UFC’s 155 lbs ruler began. “How are you guys, how is quarantine? Tell me honestly, who is sticking by it and who is breaking it? Hope everything is fine with you guys, I hope your loved ones are healthy and alive.”
Skipping to questions put to him from those tuning in to hear his first words since his Wednesday announcement, Khabib straight away fished out the pertinent issue of whether there will be a fight and revealed his own frustration at a situation that has produced more issues than solutions.
“It’s a good question, which I can’t answer. Starting from around March 10, since then I don’t have an answer where the fight will be or if it will be at all,” the 31-year-old said.
“Some people are saying I need to fly [out of Russia]. I have a question for those people – where do I need to fly? America? There will be no tournament in America. Abu Dhabi? There will also be no tournament in Abu Dhabi.
“Europe? Also no tournament. Russia – the same. Where do I need to fly? I have a question: why do I need to go to America? For what? If there is no tournament there. You need to answer this.
“I’m reading the comments and in the news, and I’m tire of this everywhere I click Khabib said this and Khabib said that.”
The topic of Khabib leaving Russia on a flight to a location where a potential fight could credibly take place stems from an announcement from Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency that the option to travel on a private aircraft was still available to Khabib, despite Russia having banned all international flights to and from the country from March 27 in a bid to battle the spread of the virus.
Nevertheless, ‘The Eagle’ decided not to soar and refused to exempt himself to a quarantine currently observed the world over. Khabib however insisted his preparations had remained uninterrupted, despite consistent changes to plans amid the current global crisis.
“Since December I’ve been in a battle state, I’m getting ready for this fight, preparing physically and mentally, training, weight cutting, morning and night I spar, run, do padwork, crossfit, practicing throws, grappling, wrestling. Since December I’ve been preparing,” the Makhachkala native said.
“I went to America with my entire team, we were there for 40 days. When everything closed in American we went to Abu Dhabi, because we thought the fight would happen there. If they didn’t let us in Abu Dhabi we would have flown here to Dagestan to prepare further.
“Where do I need to fly? Where will the fight be? Tell me. I also want to go and fight. But where? Who will tell me? No one is answering. No one says anything.”
The 28-0 fighter then seemingly sympathized with those cooped up at home with little or nothing to talk about, other than the dreaded thought of conversing with loved ones, conceding that his fans might simply see him as a hot conversation topic in during life in quarantine.
“On the one hand I understand that everyone is staying at home. There’s nothing to discuss. People need something to discuss so they don’t get bored. But everything should be within reason,” he said.
“And everyone should understand that if a man says something then after that he should produce something. I don’t know, just tell me where. I also want to know.
“Is anyone gonna give me an answer? If anyone has any information on where the fight will be, in what format, tell me I also want to know.”
Seemingly becoming frustrated and slightly incredulous at the demand of the people without any credible alternative, Khabib then blurting out one of his famous-ever quotes.
“Location, location, send me a location. I’m at home. As soon as we got home from America we’ve been in quarantine. I’m at home, constantly, I’m training. I haven’t stopped training.”
In the absence of Khabib’s desired answers, there was one special request from a special guest among the 100,000 watching – Khabib’s nemesis ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor. The Irishman popped up to comment “add me in”.
McGregor had been touted as a possible replacement for Khabib to face Ferguson, and on Thursday announced on Twitter he is “in shape to fight right now” before having a sly dig at his old rival for “chickening out”.
“The fact of this matter is, both Tony and Khabib where engaged in a game of chicken here towards the fight bell. With Khabib chickening out first!” The Dubliner wrote.
“Making it 3-2 in pullouts in Tony’s favour. Khab scurried out of the U.S to home, and amid the crisis. Very high risk.
Without any live MMA currently on offer to watch in corona quarantine, we’re sure a joint Instagram live between Khabib and Conor would provide the entertainment – and cyber-violence – we’re sorely lacking in our lockdown lives.