UFC’s Woodley-Edwards main event won’t go on
Ariel Helwani is an MMA reporter at ESPN. Follow him on Twitter at @arielhelwani.
Although next weekend’s UFC event is still up in the air, the original main event — Tyron Woodley vs. Leon Edwards — definitely will not happen.
After the UFC was forced to cancel the March 21 card in London and move it to a yet-to-be determined location in the United States, Edwards opted not to fly to America amid the spread of the coronavirus and the travel bans implemented by the United States and the United Kingdom. With no guarantee where the event would take place and no guarantee that he’d be able to get back home next week, plus, with some of his cornermen not having the proper documentation to fly at this time, the call was made for Edwards to stay home.
Edwards discussed the situation on social media.
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
As of right this moment, Woodley’s involvement on the card is still up in the air. The UFC insists on putting on this event next weekend, though it has yet to tell fighters where it will take place. Tribal lands in California and Alabama have been discussed, but nothing has been decided. If a promotion holds an event on tribal land, it doesn’t have to adhere to the rules of a state commission, so it would, in theory, prove to be easier to put on the event.
The UFC is working on building a brand-new card for next Saturday because the majority of the fighters scheduled to compete on the London card are based overseas and are unable to fly to America at this time.
Early Sunday morning, the UFC sent this message to MMA managers and representatives:
“Because we are moving this event to the U.S. next weekend, there will be a number of open spots on that card. If you have anyone currently under UFC contract, from bantamweight to welterweight, who wants a short notice fight, please let me know. If you have any UFC vets or fighters ready for UFC on a week’s notice, please let me know. DO NOT email me about anyone who is not a US CITIZEN or does not have A CURRENT P1 VISA.”
The Woodley fight was a massive opportunity for Edwards to assert himself as the top contender in the welterweight division. He has won eight in a row, and Woodley is the former champion at 170 pounds.
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