Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Amid the chaos caused by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the UFC was forced to move their upcoming card in London to a new location that’s still to be determined. Following that announcement, several fighters confirmed that their bouts would be cancelled as a result of the upcoming travel ban issued by the United States.
Edwards, who lives in the United Kingdom, announced on Sunday that he would be forced out of his main event spot against Woodley. It was only a matter of minutes before ex-interim champion Colby Covington and UFC Brasilia winner Gilbert Burns offered to take his place.
Covington, a longstanding rival of Woodley, took to Twitter to accept the fight on one week’s notice. Covington most recently fought this past December, where he fell to current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 245.
“Word on the street is ‘Leon Scott’ is out,” Covington wrote, referencing Edwards’ withdrawal. “The UFC and America need a hero. Who wants to see America’s Champ put the MAGA cape on and beat the f*ck out of Tyron Woodley live on ESPN next week for your entertainment and my own personal pleasure?”
Word on the street is @LeonScott is out. The @ufc and America need a hero. Who wants see America’s Champ put the #MAGA cape on and beat the fuck out of @twooodley live on @ESPN next week for your entertainment and my own personal pleasure?
— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) March 15, 2020
A request for comment to Woodley’s rep at First Round Management wasn’t immediately returned. But Woodley subsequently took to Instagram to say Covington had turned down the fight.
A post shared by Tyron Woodley (@twooodley) on Mar 15, 2020 at 12:51pm PDT
When Woodley was still the welterweight champion, Covington was expected to fight him on several occasions, but the matchup never came together. Covington was forced with withdraw from a title shot against then-champ Woodley at UFC 228 due to a nasal surgery, and Woodley went on to lose the title to Usman.
Following his first-round TKO of Demian Maia on Saturday night at UFC Brasilia, Burns is also making the call to face Woodley on short notice.
The Brazilian has rattled off three straight wins at welterweight and following his victory over Maia, and he said he’s more than willing to accept the challenge to face Woodley in six days.
“Come on Dana White, I said yesterday I’m saying again I fight Woodley Saturday!” Burns wrote on Twitter. “Put me in WOODLEY X BURNS!”
— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) March 15, 2020
Late Saturday night, UFC president Dana White announced that the promotion was still planning to move forward with upcoming cards even if that meant shifting locations. With Edwards out, it appeared the options available for the main event were limited. But it seems Covington and Burns are willing to say otherwise if the UFC wants to book one of them.