The UFC have vowed that the show must go on despite the Caronavirus pandemic, but that is proving to be increasingly difficult with regards to their next event, UFC Fight Night 171, which was originally scheduled to take place in London, England on Saturday night.
During the weekend travel and large-scale gathering restrictions in the UK forced the UFC to abandon hosting the event there and they are currently scrambling to find a new location in the U.S. to host the show, but meanwhile that is also having a knock-on effect in terms of who can compete.
England’s Leon Edwards was expected to fight Tyron Woodley in the main event of the evening, but he’s now pulled out due to concerns about leaving his home country and his family in the midst of the pandemic.
“Last night I went to sleep still with some hope that UFC London would continue next week,” Edwards wrote on Instagram. “I woke up this morning to the news that it won’t be. We have been working with the UFC on possible solutions to keep the fight alive, but unfortunately with such a short window of time, nothing was viable. Myself and my team are all fathers, husbands, sons and brothers, and not all of us can leave our families right now.
“I wish we could have found a way for the fans, I truly do. I have been dreaming of headlining a UFC show in my home country since I started this sport. This cancellation is truly heartbreaking. I have never worked harder and never been more prepared for the biggest moment in my career. But I know that the whole world is hurting right now and this is bigger than me, this is bigger than sports. All I can hope for is that all of you stay safe and look after each other as we get past this and move forward.
“I am humbled by the thousands of messages of support I have received in the hours since the announcement, I truly appreciate you all and feel a lot of love right now. I look forward to this event being rebooked when it is safe to do so, so Tyron and I can put on the show that you all deserve. Please take care, we will all get through is. Rocky.”
Edwards withdrawal is just one of many though as the reality is that no less than 11 other bouts have now been scrapped, leaving the UFC with an almost impossible task to put together an almost entirely new card on less than a week’s notice.
Check out the full list below.
Marc Diakiese vs Jai Herbert
Jack Shore vs Geraldo de Freitas
Shavkhat Rakhmonov vs Bartosz Fabinski
Mike Grundy vs Makwan Amirkhani
Gabriel Benitez vs Lerone Murphy
Jake Collier vs Tom Aspinall
Molly McCann vs Ashlee Evans-Smith
John Phillips vs Dusko Todorovic
Kevin Holland vs Jack Marshman
Nicolas Dalby vs Danny Roberts
Tyron Woodley vs Leon Edwards
Meanwhile the status of two other bouts remain in doubt.
Paul Craig vs Ryan Spann
Darren Stewart vs Marvin Vettori