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