It’s a hard time for everyone right now with the Coronavirus shutting down all non-essential services, but we’ve got some extra sympathy for the UFC fighters that were scheduled to compete at UFC London just as the COVID-19 pandemic was turning into a deadly reality for Europe and North America. A ton of these fighters traveled to the United Kingdom amidst the chaos, only to be told last minute to rush back to America if they wanted to stay on the card.
That demand led to Leon Edwards pulling out of his main event fight with Tyron Woodley rather than risk getting stuck in America once the borders between countries closed. It turned out to be the smart choice: a day after the UFC was demanding fighters rush to the US, they pulled the plug on the show. Which certainly sucked for undercard fighter Marvin Vettori, who listened to the promotion and got from London to America.
“In 48 hours, I’ve been 22 hours on a f*cking plane,” Vettori told MMA Fighting. “Got back, and obviously I’m a little confused. I’m like the only thing I can actually control is I’ve got to stay ready. I’ve got to do whatever is on my schedule. I’ve got to train and make sure if there is an opportunity, I’m going to go out and f*cking smash that.”
Funny enough, if Vettori had stayed put in the UK he probably would have fought on Saturday night. Cage Warriors 113 went ahead behind closed doors in Manchester, and several UFC London fighters were moved onto that card including Vettori’s original opponent Darren Stewart.
“I’m like, ‘Fly me back! I’ll fight him,’” Vettori said. “I asked them to fly me back. I’ll fight this guy. I’ll make weight. Worst case scenario, they block me and I go back to Italy. I’m not worried about not being able to come back. Somehow make it happen, but they’re like, ‘At this stage it’s not possible.’ So it’s been a whole mess. Everything happened so quickly. It’s one of those things, we didn’t know. The fight got cancelled, and the UFC isn’t happening. Who the f*ck could predict that the UFC would move two fights from UFC to Cage Warriors?”
Scanning through his MMA Fighting interview and another with MMA Junkie, there’s one pretty important detail from his crazy week missing: what the UFC is doing to compensate him for all this craziness. The fact that this remains a conspicuously unasked and unanswered question makes us fear the worst: that the UFC isn’t cutting checks for the UFC London fighters who did everything they were supposed to do. Not even the ones who went above and beyond to help Dana White fulfill his reckless attempts to keep the UFC going during the start of an international pandemic seem to have gotten much out of it.
According to White, all fights between now and UFC 249 are merely ‘postponed’ and not cancelled. So not only are these fighters not getting paid for the camps they have already gone through, they need to stay ready for whenever the virus situation stabilizes and semi-normal life can resume. Must be fun having to train and stay in fighting shape and within striking distance of making weight when no one knows how long any of this will last.