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UFC seeking short notice fighters to fill upcoming card being moved due to coronavirus outbreak

Tyron Woodley (EL, MMA F) Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC is determined to soldier on.

With numerous combat sports promotions around the globe cancelling or postponing shows as well as major organizations like the NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer suspending all play due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the UFC is attempting to move forward with their upcoming schedule.

Next weekend’s UFC Fight Night card that was expected to take place in London is now being relocated with a new destination still to be determined. In the wake of the London event being moved and an upcoming travel ban that will prevent many fighters from getting into the United States, the UFC is now seeking to find athletes who are willing to compete on short notice to fill up the card.

On Sunday, UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby sent out a call asking for fighters who would be willing to compete at the event on March 21.

“Because we are moving this event to the U.S. next weekend, there will be a number of open spots on that card,” Shelby wrote in the email. “If you have anyone currently under UFC contract, from bantamweight to welterweight, who wants a short notice fight, please let me know.

“If you have any UFC vets or fighters ready for UFC on a week’s notice, please let me know. Do not email me about anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or does not have a current P1 visa.”

Several managers with fighters on upcoming UFC card spoke to MMA Fighting on Sunday and relayed that information is scarce regarding the plans for the show that was supposed to take place in London.

Fighters such as Marvin Vettori had already arrived in England for the fight, but he is now traveling back to the United States in hopes of competing next weekend. The card remains influx after Leon Edwards dropped out of the main event against Tyron Woodley due to the travel ban instituted in the United States.

There is no word on where the UFC could potentially hold the show after the Nevada State Athletic Commission met on Saturday and voted unanimous to suspend all combat sports events in the state through at least March 25. Another meeting is being held on that date where the commission will address the future with a plan of action currently being worked on by executive director Bob Bennett.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced governors from across the U.S. to issue executive orders banning mass gatherings. The United Kingdom is expected to issue a similar order, which along with the upcoming travel ban ultimately doomed the show in London.

Despite all the obstacles, the UFC is still planning to move forward with the March 21 card as well as shows scheduled for March 28 and April 11.

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