⚡️ Get the free App now
Favorites Edit

UFC opts for desperate measures to save Fight Night 171 after 13 bouts were called off

  • UFC took a major hit due to Coronavirus restrictions.
  • With no fixed venue or confirmed headliner, UFC is still looking to have an event!
Anwesha Nag
Modified 16 Mar 2020, 16:21 IST

UFC arena
UFC arena

Coronavirus has recently been announced to be a pandemic by WHO for its wide geographical spread worldwide. Every national government is taking necessary steps towards the containment of the virus, and as a result, several sporting events have been canceled in its wake.

UFC and Dana White so far had been adamant about making the show go on with adequate measures. Last week, UFC Brasilia took place in an empty Nilson Nelson Gymnasium with limited media access. The next event was to take place at O2 Arena in London on March 21. But it seems like their luck has run out, with the UK Government imposing strict containment rules across the country.

13 MMA fights canceled for the upcoming event

After the event had to be relocated from London, UFC quickly confirmed that it is likely to take place in the United States. No venue has been announced as of yet.

But even if they get permission to host the event in an arena, there is serious doubt about how many originally scheduled fights can actually take place. Due to travel restrictions amidst the pandemic scare, several fighters who flew to the UK for the event are now stuck there and cannot make it to the United States in time. The same applies to fighters who are native to the UK.

As a result, as many as 13 fights stand to be canceled, causing the upcoming UFC Fight Night 171 to be possibly a lackluster affair. In a desperate attempt to salvage the event, UFC had sent out an internal memo to the managers in the MMA circuit, welcoming any fighter who is willing to step in.

The memo was shared by ESPN's Ariel Helwani on Twitter, in which they opened doors for anyone ready for a short-notice fight, whether they are currently on the UFC roster or not. It was specified in bold letters that they have to be US citizens and not hold a current P1 Visa.

Among the fights that have been canceled according to several sources including the fighters themselves, are the headlining bout between Leon Edwards and Tyron Woodley. The news was shared by Edwards himself on Instagram, calling it 'truly heartbreaking'. He promised to put on a show with Woodley for the fans when the time is right.

View this post on Instagram

Last night I went to sleep still with some hope that UFC London would continue next week.  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

A post shared by Leon "Rocky" Edwards (@leon_edwardsmma) on

Co-main event Nicolas Dalby vs. Danny Roberts is also canceled, confirmed by Roberts on Instagram and MMA reporter Chisanga Malata on Twitter.

View this post on Instagram

I’m sure that everyone has heard the news by now but it is with frustration that I can confirm that my fight scheduled ‪on 21 March 2020‬ at UFC London is no longer going ahead. After numerous months abroad, time spent away from family and all the other sacrifices associated with competing at the elite, it goes without saying that my personal frustration is on another level right now. I have worked hard my whole life for these moments and, particularly in light of last year’s events, I was fully focused on putting on an unforgettable show for the fans in this year’s co-main event. I live and breathe fighting. I love performing for the fans. I have done everything in my power to make sure this fight happens. However, this is completely out of my control and recognise that the health and safety of the 20,000 people who would be in the O2 Arena ‪on Saturday night‬ is paramount. Therefore, despite the widespread disappointment, if delaying or moving the competition protects people it’s 100% worth it. Life is all about perspective and, in this time of madness, I would urge everyone to spend quality time with their loved ones – that’s certainly what I will be doing. Let’s fight this virus together 🦠 (but in groups no larger than 500 people 😆). See you soon fight fans ✌🏽❤️ #UFC #UFCEurope #UFCLondon #TeamChocolate #MixedMartialArts #UKMMA #SanfordMMA

A post shared by Danny Roberts (@danhotchocolate) on

Flyweight fighter Ashlee Evans-Smith also posted Instagram stories about the same. She had a fight with Molly McCann in the event. Other canceled fights are:

  • Kevin Holland vs. Jack Marshman
  • Darren Stewart vs. Marvin Vettori
  • Marc Diakiese vs. Jai Herbert
  • Geraldo de Freitas vs. Jack Shore
  • Paul Craig vs. Ryan Spann
  • Gabriel Benitez vs. Lerone Murphy
  • Makwan Amirkhani vs. Mike Grundy
  • John Phillips vs. Dusko Todorovic
  • Tom Aspinall vs. Jake Collier
  • Bartosz Fabinski vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov

Some of these fighters are still ready to fight on March 21 if anyone responds to the memo circulated by UFC. However, for now, it seems like the event is currently in real jeopardy with neither a confirmed fight nor a definite venue.

Published 16 Mar 2020, 16:21 IST
Fetching more content...