It’s official: UFC London is no more. But in its place, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has vowed to hold an event on March 21, 2020, somewhere on United States soil.
Where? That’s currently unclear. With which fighters? Also not obvious. Travel bans have sprung up around the world as governments attempt to get a handle on the spread of the novel Coronavirus which is quickly starting to overwhelm hospital capacities in parts of Europe and the United States. Many UFC London fighters from America were already in the United Kingdom for their fights. And many British and European fighters lack the visas to travel to the United States.
”Obviously, things are changing by the hour,” UFC President Dana White told ESPN late Saturday night. “This morning they announced new travel restrictions for the UK so the fights can’t continue in London. But the fights will go on. We’re working on finding a new venue, likely in the United States, and I have my matchmakers literally working right now to put on the undercard. So the bottom line is that fight is happening, and that main event will go on.”
Adding on to what White said regarding the undercard of UFC TBD, Ariel Helwani shared an email from the promotion showing that the promotion is open to signing new fighting talent in the United States to restock its upcoming cards.
This is an email they are sending out to managers and reps about this new card next week. As you can see, they are even open to signing fighters who currently aren’t on the roster to fill it up, as well. pic.twitter.com/qYcYCDvdyo— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 15, 2020
It all makes for an event that will end up massively different than what it looked like a mere two days ago. Here’s how things look as it stands.
Still on (or at least still no word of cancellation yet):
Tyron Woodley vs. TBA
Kevin Holland vs. TBA
Darren Stewart vs. TBA
Paul Craig vs. Ryan Spann
Tom Aspinall vs. Jake Collier
Tyron Woodley vs. Leon Edwards
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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
Danny Roberts vs. Nicolas Dalby
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I’m sure that everyone has heard the news by now but it is with frustration that I can confirm that my fight scheduled on 21 March 2020 at UFC London is no longer going ahead. After numerous months abroad, time spent away from family and all the other sacrifices associated with competing at the elite, it goes without saying that my personal frustration is on another level right now. I have worked hard my whole life for these moments and, particularly in light of last year’s events, I was fully focused on putting on an unforgettable show on for the fans in this year’s co-main event. I live and breathe fighting. I love performing for the fans. I have done everything in my power to make sure this fight happens. However, this is completely out of my control and recognise that the health and safety of the 20,000 people who would be in the O2 Arena on Saturday night is paramount. Therefore, despite the widespread disappointment, if delaying or moving the competition protects people it’s 100% worth it. Life is all about perspective and, in this time of madness, I would urge everyone to spend quality time with their loved ones – that’s certainly what I will be doing. Let’s fight this virus together (but in groups no larger than 500 people ). See you soon fight fans ✌ ❤️ #UFC #UFCEurope #UFCLondon #TeamChocolate #MixedMartialArts #UKMMA #SanfordMMA
Jack Marshman vs. Kevin Holland
Add Kevin Holland vs. Jack Marshman to the list of canceled bouts from the ever-changing #UFCLondon card, per sources. @MMAjunkie pic.twitter.com/E99O6Tywma— Nolan King (@mma_kings) March 15, 2020
Darren Stewart vs. Marvin Vettori
Jack Shore vs. Geraldo de Freitas
Wales' Jack Shore says he's "gutted" with the decision UFC Fight Night 171 in London is called off— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) March 15, 2020
Marc Diakiese vs. Jai Herbert
Gabriel Benitez vs. Lerone Murphy
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Devastated to announce my fight has been cancelled due to the corona outbreak. 1 week away from fight night. After 2 trips to Thailand and countless hours in the gym. This was the best I’ve ever felt going into a fight, mentally and physically. Hopefully this will all clear up soon and we will all be back to work! @ufceurope @ufc - - - - #fuckcorona #ufclondon #ufc #trainingcamp #training #gymmotivation
Can you believe that’s the first camp at pro level that I havent been carrying a injury. Fitness level 100. Mindset 100. Weights perfect. Devastated but life goes on. #ufclondon— Lerone Murphy (@LeroneMurphy) March 15, 2020
Molly McCann vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith
Ashlee Evans-Smith on Instagram: "I've been in London for two days, actually only 24 hours on the ground. Anyway, fight's off, postponed, all I really know is that I've got to get back to California, yesterday basically."— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) March 15, 2020
Mike Grundy vs. Makwan Amirkhani
John Phillips vs. Dusko Todorovic
Gutted for @MakwanAmirkhani and @JohnPhillipsmma now that #UFCLondon is off. I really hope that @ufc can compensate them some % of their purse. They had invested heavily in their training camps moving to Dublin etc— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) March 15, 2020
Bartosz Fabinski vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
Shavkat Rakhmonov found out about it in airport during check in to his flight to London. He doesn’t have P1 USA visa so his fight with Fabinski is off https://t.co/wkAkcnBQuP— Sayat 萨亚特 (@sayatmma) March 15, 2020
And the big question: are the fighters who are no longer competing getting paid? At this point there’s no sign that they are. Straight Blast Gym head coach John Kavanagh went so far as to prod UFC on payment in his tweet regarding teammates Amirkhani and Phillips. I know they’re busy trying to pull off an event in the most hostile of conditions, but the sacrifices many of these fighters have already made trying to keep this event going are pretty huge.
If they don’t get at least their show money, it’d be a pretty big slap in the face to the idea that the fights are continuing “for the fighters.”
More updates to the former UFC London card on MMAmania.com as they roll in.