BREAKING: Khamzat Chimaev – Leon Edwards is off again; UFC will move on from matchup

The UFC can’t seem to catch a break with this fight. The highly anticipated matchup between Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) and Leon Edwards (18-3) is off again. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke the story this evening.

Okamoto stated that UFC president Dana White said that Khamzat Chimaev is still dealing with lingering symptoms of COVID-19. Because of these symptoms, Chimaev is not able to properly train and he has been forced to pull out of the fight.

Originally, the UFC booked these two as the headliner for the December 19th fight night. However, Edwards came down with COVID and the promotion had to postpone the fight. Then they rescheduled the fight for January 20th.

However, this time it was Chimaev who came down with COVID and the fight was cancelled a second time. Now, the UFC has been forced to cancel this matchup for the third time and this will be the final time.

White told Okamoto that the promotion will not attempt to book this fight again. Instead, they will move forward with finding Leon Edwards a new opponent. There is the possibility that Edwards moves dates as well.

UFC’s options for Edwards

This is a huge blow for the UFC’s welterweight division. This fight had a ton of hype behind it and it was good business for the promotion either way. If Edwards won, he would get the push he needed to validate his top contender status.

If Chimaev was able to win, the UFC would have their newest superstar right in title contention. However, the dream of this fight is officially dead, for now. The question then becomes, who does Leon Edwards fight?

Given the timeline, it’s possible that Leon Edwards gets the next shot at the title. Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns are fighting this weekend for the title. In theory, the Colby Covington – Jorge Masvidal fight should produce the top contender. However, that fight won’t take place anytime soon.

If someone wins this weekend and wants to turn around quickly, Edwards might finally get his UFC title shot. The only other fighter who is available anytime soon would be Michael Chiesa (18-4). However, I’m not sure Edwards would want that fight. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

UFC rebooks headliner between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards

Today is one of the first days the UFC is back on Fight Island and they kicked it off with a bang. Dana White confirmed with MMA Junkie this morning that the promotion has rebooked Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) – Leon Edwards (18-3).

This will be the third time that the UFC is attempting to book this fight. The two will now headline the March 13th Fight Night. March is starting to look like it’s going to be a massive month for the UFC.

As mentioned, this is the third time that this fight is booked. Originally, this fight was supposed to take place in December. However, Edwards tested positive for COVID and the fight was scrapped.

Then the UFC rebooked the fight for the January 20th card. Chimaev also came down with COVID and he was not able to make the date. So, the promotion scrapped the fight for a second time.

There was brief discussions about keeping Edwards on next week’s card, however, the UFC really wanted to keep the two paired. As a result, they started working on new potential dates and landed on March 13th.

UFC Title Eliminator

A few months ago, I would have bet my house that the UFC title eliminator at welterweight would have been Colby Covington (16-2) – Jorge Masvidal (35-14). The promotion is still working on that fight, however, it hasn’t been booked.

The next welterweight title fight takes place at UFC 258 in February. Given the timeline of this new Chimaev – Edwards headliner, I believe that the winner will likely be the next in line for the welterweight championship.

Chimaev has taken the UFC by storm since his debut in July on Fight Island. Three incredibly dominant performances have turned him into a superstar. If he’s able to defeat Edwards, his stock is going to be astronomically high.

However, that’s not going to be an easy task. While not the sexiest name in the division, Edwards has won an incredible eight-straight at welterweight. Should he derail the hype train of Chimaev, there’s no denying him of a title shot. I’m pumped for this one.

Did the UFC make a mistake bumping Leon Edwards from UFC Fight Island 8?

Leon Edwards

UFC Fight Island 8 was supposed to feature the much anticipated welterweight matchup between Leon Edwards (18-3) and Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). While their rankings wouldn’t suggest it, it was the perfect fight for both men.

Edwards is ranked third while Chimaev is ranked 15th. However, Chimaev has become a massive star and Edwards need to get the rub from someone with so much hype. In my opinion, it would have been good either way for the UFC.

The fight was originally supposed to take place in December, but it was scrapped after Edwards tested positive for COVID. They rescheduled for Fight Island 8, but that was cancelled after Chimaev couldn’t train properly after he came down with COVID.

The UFC kicked the tires with leaving Edwards on the card. “Rocky” hasn’t fought since July of 2019. He’s riding a eight-fight winning streak and he’s clearly one of the best fighters in the world.

At this point, Edwards just needs to get back in the octagon. However, the UFC decided to take him off the card and try to book the Chimaev fight a third time. While I love that matchup, did the promotion make a mistake?

Did the UFC make a mistake?

The UFC‘s reasoning for trying to rebook the fight is simply they feel it’s a fight that everyone wants to see. Another thing that goes into it is the fight that the promotion has had a helluva time booking either man for a fight.

It seemed nobody wanted to fight either Chimaev or Edwards outside of Neil Magny (24-7). Magny offered to face Chimaev after Edwards fell out then he said he would fight Edwards in the main event of UFC Fight Island 8.

Of course, Magny is already scheduled to take on Michael Chiesa (17-4). Edwards told the promotion that he would fight either Chiesa or Magny if it meant that he could stay on the card since he hasn’t fought in so long.

In the end, the UFC said no. They want to keep the potential matchup with Chimaev together. However, while I definitely see their reasoning, I can’t say that I agree with it. I think they should have kept Edwards on the card.

Magny and Chiesa is now the main event and Chiesa is already promising it’s not going to be exciting. Not really want you want in your second main event of the year. The slot is great for both men, but it’s not a fight that promises action.

More importantly, Leon Edwards just needs to fight. We don’t know when Chimaev will be ready, but Edwards is pushing two years without a fight in the UFC. I know you don’t want to lose the Chimaev fight, but I think it was a mistake to bump Edwards from that slot next Wednesday.

2021 UFC Breakthrough Candidates

UFC, Dana White

This past year, the UFC has seen a few fighters come out of no where and become household names. The two names that stick out the most are Kevin Holland (21-5) and Khamzat Chimaev (9-0).

Holland was already with the UFC when the year got started. However, Holland was just 3-2 in his first five fights. He came into 2020 coming off of a submission loss to Brendan Allen, but he showed in 2020 how special he could be.

Holland went a perfect 5-0 in 2020 with four finishes including one over Jacare Souza at UFC 256. Kevin Holland was a very popular pick for fighter of the year and he was our breakout fighter of the year.

Nobody really knew who Khamzat Chimaev was when 2020 started. There was some hype surrounding him in the Middle East, but to the mainstream public, nobody really knew who he was.

Chimaev made his UFC debut on Fight Island in July. He ended up fighting twice in ten days scoring two finishes in extremely dominant fashion. Chimaev followed those performances up with a knockout over Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds in September.

Khamzat Chimaev has gone from unknown to a superstar in just a few months. He was supposed to face Leon Edwards in January, but that fight has been pushed back due to Chimaev’s recovery since coming down with COVID-19.

2021 UFC Breakthrough Prospects

The mixed martial arts world and even the mainstream public knows Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland after 2020. So who are some candidates for breakthrough fighters in the UFC as we enter 2021?

One of the guys I have my eyes on is bantamweight, Jack Shore (13-0). The bantamweight from Wales has fought twice in the UFC and he’s scored two submissions wins. Out of his 13 professional wins, only one has gone to the scorecards.

He last fought back in July on Fight Island. That night, Shore took on Aaron Phillips and he used his superior grappling to dominate the fight. Shore has all the makings for a contender who can breakthrough for the UFC in 2021.

The next guy I have my eyes on is another fighter from Wales. This one is the two-division Cage Warriors champion, Mason Jones (10-0). Jones is scheduled to make his UFC debut on January 20th against Mike Davis (8-2).

There is a lot of hype surrounding Mason Jones. The last two-division Cage Warriors champion to breakthrough in UFC is Conor McGregor. Thus, you can see why a lot of people are interested in this young man.

Jones is just 25 years old, but he is incredibly talented. The UFC is not giving him a layup in his first fight however. Mike Davis is a very tough opponent who’s only two losses have come to Gilbert Burns and Sodiq Yusuff.

Ranked Fighters to Watch

While Jones and Shore are my two prospects that I’m watching, there are a couple of more established fighters I have my eyes on as we enter 2021. One of those fighters being Jimmy Crute (12-1).

The Australian light heavyweight is currently ranked 12th in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. He has dynamite in his hands and he’s very good on the ground. He bounced back from his first loss in 2019 to score two first round finishes in 2020.

Crute is just 24 years old and looks incredibly gifted. I would not be shocked to see Crute inching towards the top five once 2021 is over. The other fighter I have my eyes on is Diego Ferreira (17-2).

Okay, I’ll admit it, Ferreira is 35 years old and he’s been with the UFC for a long time. He doesn’t really fit in with the other three fighters I’ve listed so far. However, I have him on this list for a reason.

Ferreira is a guy that seems to get lost when folks talk about the lightweight division. The most exciting division in the sport is incredibly stacked. It’s so stacked that people forget that Ferreira is on a six-fight winning streak in the UFC.

He last fought in January and submitted Anthony Pettis in the second round. Ferreira is taking on Beneil Dariush (19-4-1) in February where he will look to avenge his first career loss. Outside of Dariush, the only man to defeat Ferreira inside the octagon is Dustin Poirier.

These are four fighters that I truly believe can establish themselves in the UFC this year. When I say establish, I mean become household names to not just the MMA world, but the general public. Keep your eyes on these fighters in 2021.

Chiesa – Magny to headline UFC Fight Island 8; Chimaev – Edwards pushed back again

UFC Fight Island 8 has a new main event. Dana White told The Schmo last night that the promotion was moving forward with Michael Chiesa (17-4) and Neil Magny (24-7) as the main event of UFC Fight Island 8.

The fight between the top ten UFC welterweights was originally supposed to be the co-main event of the evening. However, after Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) had to pull out of the main event due to COVID, Chiesa and Magny get promoted.

White said in the interview that both of these guys deserve this spot. This will be the second UFC headliner for both Magny and Chiesa. Magny headlined a card with Kelvin Gastelum in 2015 while Chiesa headlined a card with Kevin Lee in 2017.

Chiesa has looked really good since moving up to the welterweight division. The former UFC lightweight had lost two in a row before making the jump to 170. Since doing that, he’s riding a three-fight winning streak.

Neil Magny made his UFC return in 2020 after serving a suspension. Magny went 3-0 this year and capped off his 2020 with a victory over former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler.

UFC will keep Chimaev – Edwards

After Khamzat Chimaev fell out of the UFC Fight Island 8 main event, Leon Edwards (18-3) made it clear that he still wanted to fight on January 20th. The promotion looked into options to accommodate Edwards.

However, ultimately the promotion decided to keep the Chimaev – Edwards fight together. White also told The Schmo that the UFC will keep the Edwards – Chimaev fight and it will be rebooked in early 2021.

Chimaev had COVID-19 in early December. Despite testing negative now, he’s still dealing with some of the effects. A doctor told him that he shouldn’t train until early January due to the impact on his lungs according to White.

The UFC President said there is no date for the matchup just yet. You have to really feel for Leon Edwards who missed all of 2020 due to the pandemic and other opportunities falling through. His last fight came in July of 2019.

State of the UFC’s welterweight division entering 2021

Overall, 2020 turned out to be a relatively slow year in the UFC‘s welterweight division. After Kamaru Usman (17-1) and Colby Covington (16-2) had a war to end 2019 for the title, we only saw one title fight in the division during 2020.

That title fight took place at UFC 251. Kamaru Usman defended his title against the BMF himself, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (35-14). Masvidal had a massive 2019 that made him the top contender in the welterweight division.

However, putting the fight with Usman together proved to be difficult. The fight actually fell apart before it came back together. Negotiations broke down between the UFC and Masvidal when the two sides were trying to make the fight.

As a result, the promotion shifted gears to Gilbert Burns (19-3). Burns became a top contender after he smashed former champion Tyron Woodley (19-6-1) and knocked out Demian Maia (28-10).

Burns was all set to take the fight against Usman at UFC 251. However, Burns tested positive for COVID and the fight was scrapped. That’s how we ultimately got back to the fight between Usman and Masvidal.

UFC’s Welterweight Division in 2021

Usman would go on to use his steady wrestling attack to secure a decision win over Masvidal at UFC 251. However, Usman would be out the remainder of 2020 after getting banged up in the fight.

Tentatively, the UFC is planning on Usman and Burns facing off on February 13th for the welterweight title. The promotion also has their eyes on a grudge match in the division that promises to be big business.

The UFC is trying to book Masvidal against Covington. The two former best friends are now sworn enemies and can’t stand each other. The promotion has been trying to put the fight together, but it’s developed extremely slow.

That fight is one of the more anticipated matchups of 2021. Another fighter to watch this upcoming year is Leon Edwards (18-3). Edwards has won eight fights in a row and he was supposed to take on the star prospect, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) on January 20th.

However, we learned yesterday that Chimaev had to pull out of the fight. The plan is still for Edwards to fight on January 20th. In addition to all of these contenders, you still have Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (16-4-1) in the mix.

Wonderboy just picked up a shutout victory over Geoff Neal at UFC Vegas 17. Thompson has turned away two straight top contenders to show everyone he’s still a factor at 170 pounds.

Kamaru Usman’s toughest stylistic matchup is his first fight of the year. After Burns, the division is filled with killers waiting for their chance. Usman is going to have his hands full trying to hold on to his UFC gold in 2021.

BREAKING: UFC headliner between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards is off (Report)

Well, this is not the UFC news that anyone wanted to hear this morning. Currently being reported by RT Sport, a Russian media outlet, the much anticipated Fight Island headliner between Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) and Leon Edwards (18-3) is off again.

UFC officials have not yet confirmed this news. However, RT Sport says that they have confirmed with a source close to the situation after initial reports out of Sweden. This is the second time that this welterweight fight has fallen through.

Originally, UFC Vegas 17 was supposed to be headlined by Chimaev and Edwards. However, Edwards came down with COVID-19 and the fight had to be pushed back. The UFC officially announced the fight last week.

However, it now appears that the promotion will have to switch gears. We should all pause until the news is confirmed by UFC officials, but this is a massive blow to Dana White’s proposed International Fight Week.

Last week the UFC finalized a fight between Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny for the same card. The idea was that if the main event fell through, one of those guys could potentially step in. However, there’s no word yet as to why the fight is off.

What will the UFC do?

MMA Fighting has confirmed that Khamzat Chimaev had to pull out of the UFC Fight Island 8 main event. At this time there is no word on why Chimaev pulled out, but he is the one this time who has had to pull out.

If Leon Edwards is still ready to fight, I think the UFC should see if he’d be willing to fight Chiesa or Magny. Edwards desperately needs to get back into the cage and fight after missing all of 2020.

At this time, there is no word on why Chimaev has had to pull out of the main event. That being said, we don’t know how long Chimaev will be on the shelf. If it’s a short-term thing, the UFC could try to book the Chimaev – Edwards fight for the third time.

This situation is still developing and we will continue to monitor and update throughout the day.

2020 UFC Breakout Fighter of the Year

Kevin Holland

It’s been a great year despite the pandemic for the UFC. In a year that has seen many businesses struggle to keep their doors open, the promotion has thrived putting on tremendous fights since they returned in May after a brief hiatus.

In addition to putting on some great fight cards this year, the UFC has seen a number of fighters seemingly come out of no where. One of those fighters that came out of no where for the promotion was Khamzat Chimaev (9-0).

Chimaev made his UFC debut during the promotion’s first trip to Fight Island. He ended up fighting three times since July and he finished all three of his opponents inside the octagon.

However, it was the manner in which Chimaev finished his UFC fights that stood out. The guy took no damage whatsoever and did whatever he wanted to his opponents. In his last win over Gerald Meerschaert, he showed that he can knock opponents out on the feet.

Despite the rise to stardom for Chimaev, I can’t make him my Breakout Fighter of the Year. To me, the UFC had one fighter who was already on the roster entering 2020, but this year he came into his own and took his game to another level.

UFC’s Breakout Fighter of the Year

To me, the UFC‘s 2020 Breakout Fighter of the Year is Kevin Holland (21-5). Holland was also on my shortlist for Fighter of the Year after the year that he had in the UFC during 2020.

Kevin Holland was submitted in his final UFC fight of 2019. The fighter who was labeled as “Big Mouth” by Dana White was entertaining, but you wondered what his ceiling truly was. We got a glimpse of that in 2020.

Holland fought an astonishing five times since May and he went a perfect 5-0. What’s also impressive is the fact that Holland finished four of his five fights. The most impressive finish coming at UFC 256.

Holland took on legend, Jacare Souza, on the PPV main card. After getting taken down early, Holland was able to knock Jacare out from the bottom to cap off his perfect 2020 inside the octagon.

Holland has gone from an entertaining mid-card level fighter to a serious contender in 2020. Considering where he was to where he is now, Kevin Holland is the clear choice for the UFC‘s Breakout Fighter of the Year in 2020.

2020 UFC Fighter of the Year

The UFC has officially completed all of their business in this crazy 2020. Despite a global pandemic, the promotion had an incredible year that saw tremendous growth and new fans coming to the sport of MMA.

The UFC hosted many successful events and saw a number of fighters burst onto the scene in 2020. One of those fighters being the rising superstar, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). Chimaev made his debut with the UFC back in July.

He rose to fame with his incredible dominance through his first three fights. In his first three fights with the UFC, Chimaev has scored finishes in all three while absorbing just a few strikes total.

He’s been catapulted into a main event on January 20th in a fight that could be a title eliminator. While Chimaev’s UFC rise has been remarkable, he’s not quite the fighter of the year in my opinion.

Another fighter who broke through this year was Kevin Holland (21-5). After losing his last fight in 2019, Holland completely transformed himself in 2020. Holland had arguably the best year out of anybody with the promotion.

He went an astonishing 5-0 with four finishes in 2020. Even more remarkable was the fact that he didn’t fight for the first time until May. However, despite his incredible year, Holland was not ESM’s UFC Fighter of the Year.

2020 UFC Fighter of the Year

Looking at everything for 2020, the UFC‘s Fighter of the Year was a clear choice for me. That clear choice is the flyweight champion of the world, Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1). Figueiredo started out 2020 as the top contender at flyweight.

Back in February, he took on Joseph Benavidez for the vacant UFC flyweight title. However, Figueiredo missed weight for the fight which caused him to lose his opportunity to capture the belt. Yet, the fight still went on.

Figueiredo was completely dominant and he won the fight by second round knockout. In July, Figueiredo had a rematch for Benavidez for the UFC title. This time Figueiredo made weight and he stopped Benavidez in the first round to capture the title.

Looking to close out the year strong, Figueiredo was booked to defend his title against Alex Perez at UFC 255. Figueiredo submitted Perez in less than two minutes to successfully defend his title.

Because of his quick work, the UFC turned him around quickly to headline UFC 256 against Brandon Moreno. The two had an absolute war that was a fight of the year candidate. In the end, the two men fought to a draw.

Granted, Figueiredo would have won had he not been docked a point at UFC 256. It was later revealed that Figueiredo had spent time in the hospital the night before his title fight against Moreno.

Yes, his record was not technically perfect, but Deiveson Figueiredo is the clear Fighter of the Year. Four sensational performances in essentially four title fights. Figueiredo emerged as the superstar flyweight needed in 2020 for the UFC.

UFC books Michael Chiesa – Neil Magny

The UFC has been putting in the work on this holiday week. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto is reporting that the promotion is close to finalizing a really good matchup at welterweight that will take place on Fight Island.

Per Okamoto, Michael Chiesa (17-4) and Neil Magny (24-7) will go head-to-head on the UFC‘s January 20th Fight Night. That card is being headlined by the welterweight matchup between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards.

January 20th will mark the UFC return for Michael Chiesa after spending the majority of 2020 on the sidelines. Chiesa last fought in January, but he’s been on the sidelines with leg injuries this year.

He’s seen a career resurgence since moving from lightweight up to the UFC‘s welterweight division. He’s won three straight at 170 which has placed him eighth in the rankings. Just one spot ahead of his opponent on January 20th.

UFC Welterweight Matchup

Standing across from Chiesa will be Neil Magny. Like Chiesa. The Haitian Sensation has won three straight in the UFC‘s welterweight division. Magny made his return this year after serving a suspension that kept him out for a year and a half.

Magny has looked sensational this year. His return started in March when he defeated Li Jingliang. Then he took on Anthony Rocco Martin at UFC 250. Both of those decision victories led him to a fight with former UFC champion, Robbie Lawler.

Magny completely outworked and dominated the former champion over the course of fifteen minutes. The victory was the biggest win of his career. Both of these contenders are in a prime spot to make that next leap in the welterweight division.

Whoever wins this matchup will likely get someone in the UFC‘s top five the next time out. Okamoto did note that should the main event have a fighter fall out, either Magny or Chiesa could serve as the backup for the main event.