UFC London could have been Leon Edwards’ big moment.
While the 28-year-old Englishman is on an eight-fight winning streak that has established himself as one of the sport’s top welterweights, he hasn’t received the recognition of some other fighters in the division. That could’ve changed on Saturday, when he was scheduled to square off against former champion Tyron Woodley in the UFC Fight Night 171 headliner in his home country.
Instead the event was moved, and ultimately canceled, due to coronavirus concerns. Edwards pulled out of the fight as the promotion was still looking for a new location in the U.S. UFC Fight Night 171 was one of three upcoming events that was canceled by the Las Vegas-based organization.
“I talked to my coaches, what they think about it, what should I do, and everyone is like, ‘It just wasn’t possible to do,'” Edwards told ESPN. “I had three or four hours to get to the airport, get to London. There was just too much going on, we didn’t even know were we were going.
“No guarantee I could go back to the U.K. because the reason I had to leave on Sunday was because on Monday the ban was coming in, so we had to leave Sunday – that was the rush – in like two or four hours. It was impossible.”
However, UFC president Dana White said on SportsCenter recently that the three events are postponed and "they will still happen.” Edwards hopes that proves to be true.
"This fight's not going nowhere," Edwards said. "It'll be rescheduled, hopefully back in London. Hopefully, I get to do it in my hometown, my home country, and show the world that I am the best welterweight in the world.”
After going through a full camp, Edwards admits he was “devastated” to have the fight fall through as government travel restrictions increased due to the ongoing pandemic.
“This is one the biggest fights of my career; I’ve been dreaming of headlining in my hometown, in my home country, since the start of MMA,” Edwards said. “So to get an opportunity to headline London and to have it taken away from me, I was devastated all day Sunday, yesterday. I was devastated. I’ve worked for 10 weeks, I spent a lot of money in camp. I was fit, I was ready, I was focused, and I was ready to go. To have it taken away from me last minute – I just had to do the weight cut – and have it taken away from me, I was just devastated.”