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.