Leon Edwards was supposed to be making his most high-profile walk to the Octagon later today in a main event bout opposite Tyron Woodley at UFC Fight Night 171 in London, England, but the ongoing coronavirus outbreak put a harsh stop to that career-defining moment.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially considering Edwards is riding an eight-fight win streak and a victory over a former UFC champion like Woodley would have likely landed “Rocky” a shot at the welterweight title, but desperate times call for desperate measures. There’s simply nothing Edwards could have done to make this fight happen and that’s the same boat most of us find ourselves in these days.
What made things a little more stressful for the streaking 170-pound contender is the fact that he had little notice about the changes being made to the biggest fight of his career. Edwards was contacted by UFC just one week out from the event and instructed to get his team to the United States as the promotion tried to host UFC Fight Night 171 on home soil, but even that ended up falling through.
"I had a phone call at 9am on Sunday saying the fight is off and you need to get to America today!"— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 21, 2020
A fascinating two minutes with @Leon_edwardsmma who tells @AdamCatterall how he found out #UFCLondon had been cancelled... pic.twitter.com/QFljs0VMPe
“I went to bed on Saturday night and I got a phone call waking me up at about 9 a.m. on Sunday from my manager,” explained Edwards in a recent interview with BT Sport (shown above). “He said the fights off in London and you need to get to America today. I was like, ‘Hold up, what? How long?’ You’ve got three hours.”
In order to make the timeframe Edwards would have had to immediately pack his bags, gather his team together, make arrangements to be out of town for a week, and travel two hours from Birmingham to London to catch a flight. Edwards didn’t even know where he would be flying to.
Making matters worse is the fact that a travel ban between the United States and England was being put into effect that Monday, meaning Edwards wouldn’t have been able to travel back home after his fight with Woodley.
“They didn’t care about getting back,” said Edwards. “They just cared about me getting there. That was the whole talk, about me getting there. Nothing about me coming back.”
Edwards added that after discussing the “impossible” travel task with his team they then reached out to UFC to try to buy some time. UFC told the welterweight that he needed to leave immediately if he wanted to stay on the card.
“This is madness,” said Edwards. “The whole Sunday I was like stressed out and I was trying to figure what I can do to make the fight happen and it just couldn’t happen.”
Luckily, Edwards didn’t catch a flight to America. Earlier this week, it was announced that there will be no public gatherings of more than 10 people. The news has since put a stop to all events in the United States, which would have meant Edwards scrambled all of last Sunday for nothing.
With the UFC’s immediate future currently in limbo fight fans are unsure when we’ll get to see “Rocky” compete in the cage next. Edwards remains one of the hottest fighters in the sport today so he should still be able to land a big fight when everything normalizes.