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If UFC Fight Night 171 is going to proceed as planned, the card
will look drastically different than originally intended.

The card suffered its biggest blow yet on Sunday, when main event
competitor Leon
Edwards
announced that he would not be able to compete on the
card. UFC Fight Night 171 was originally scheduled to take place in
London, but due to U.S. travel restrictions on the United Kingdom
in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the promotion announced
plans to relocate the event to an as-yet-to-be-determined
location.

Even if that comes to fruition, Tyron
Woodley
will need a new opponent, as Edwards confirmed he won’t
be able to fight.

“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,” Edwards wrote. “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,” he continued. “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 [this].”

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 Mar
15, 2020 at 11:27am PDT

Edwards joins a lengthy list of fighters who have announced their
exit from the event, many because they are unable to fly to the
U.S. on short notice. The following bouts have been confirmed as
canceled through various reports or by the athletes themselves:
Nicolas
Dalby
vs. Danny
Roberts
; Kevin
Holland
vs. Jack
Marshman
; Geraldo
de Freitas Jr.
vs. Jack Shore;
Marc
Diakiese
vs. Jai
Herbert
; Gabriel
Benitez
vs. Lerone
Murphy
; Ashlee
Evans-Smith
vs. Molly
McCann
; Makwan
Amirkhani
vs. Mike Grundy;
John
Phillips
vs. Dusko
Todorovic
and Bartosz
Fabinski
vs. Shavkat
Rakhmonov
.

The status of the other previously announced bouts is currently
uncertain. MMAjunkie.com has a full breakdown of the withdrawals
and cancellations
here
.

In the meantime, it appears that the UFC is reaching out to any
available fighters who might be under contract and are willing to
compete on extremely short notice. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani obtained an
email the promotion has sent to managers and representatives in
hopes of finding replacements to fill out the card, and that
includes fighters not currently under UFC contract.

At the moment, it is unknown if Woodley will remain on the card.
According to
ESPN
, the promotion is in search of a replacement opponent for
the former welterweight champion. However, Woodley will have to
agree to the fight, and the UFC has not yet found a location for
the event. According to the report, relocating the event to tribal
lands in California or Alabama has been discussed because the UFC
would not have to adhere to the rules of an athletic commission in
those venues.

Woodley already has one willing suitor in Gilbert
Burns
, who scored a first-round stoppage of Demian Maia
in the UFC Fight Night 170 co-headliner this past Saturday. Burns
offered his services on Twitter.

Regardless of who ends up on the card, UFC president Dana White has
been adamant that the fights will go on.

“Unless there’s a total shutdown of the country, where people can’t
leave their houses and things like that, these fights will happen,”
White said recently on ESPN. “We’re gonna move on. These fights
will happen. These guys will compete. We will find venues and we
will figure this thing out. I mean, the only thing that’s gonna
stop us is a complete government shutdown, where everybody is
confined to their homes.”


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