UFC championship belt
UFC championship belt / Pic: Benjamin Cooke Throwdown Photography

The scheduled for March 22 (AEDT) UFC Fight Night 171 at The O2 Arena in London, England has been cancelled due to coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, which led to the travel ban imposed by most governments worldwide. Nevertheless, UFC President Dana White said that the MMA card on ESPN+ would still take place, yet at another, to be determined, venue, somewhere in the United States, joining the relocated events from Columbus and Portland.

The expected headliner of the show also fell off, when Leon Edwards withdrew from his welterweight bout against Tyron Woodley. “Rocky” made a statement on Instagram (read below).

“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”

Riding the eight-fin win streak Leon Edwards (18-3) was last seen in action in July 2019 when he scored a unanimous decision against Rafael dos Anjos. Former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (19-4-1) hasn’t fought since March 2019 when he lost the title against Kamaru Usman by unanimous decision.