Leon Edwards, Multiple Others Announce Withdrawal from UFC Fight Night 171

By: Tristen Critchfield
Mar 15, 2020


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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