That didn’t take long.
Earlier this week the latest set of UFC rankings hit the promotion’s website. Jessica Andrade found herself suddenly slotted in as the women’s flyweight top contender and Jim Crute snagged a place in the light heavyweight top 15 for the first time. But one name was notably missing.
Formerly ranked in the welterweight top 5, Leon Edwards was suddenly nowhere to be found. News quickly spread that he had been removed from eligibility due to his long period of inactivity.
While he hasn’t fought since besting Rafael dos Anjos in July of 2019, Edwards was booked to fight Tyron Woodley in March of this year—at an event cancelled in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in the months that have followed, he’s made it clear that unless he could fight a current welterweight title contender, ‘Rocky’ wasn’t interested in what the UFC had to offer. That included potential match-ups with Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, and streaking promotional newcomer Khamzat Chimaev.
“He has to at least beat somebody in the top-f-cking-25 before you go straight to f-cking fight No. 3,” Edwards told MMA of a potential fight with Chimaev just back in early October. “At least fight somebody in the top-25 or -30 first.”
Following his removal from the rankings, however, that tune has changed dramatically. The Team Renegade athlete out of Birmingham hit Twitter on Thursday with what appears to be a fresh perspective on fighting Sweden’s ‘Borz.’
I'm still in the rankings. Fuck all the inactivity, the only reason I havent fought is because all these so called top guys turned me down.— Leon 'Rocky' Edwards (@Leon_edwardsmma) October 22, 2020
Khamzat want to fight then?
The Chechen-born 26-year-old fighting out of the Allstar Training Center took his first fight in the Octagon only three months ago, back in July—where he bulldozed John Phillips on his way to a second round submission. Just 10 days later he fought former Cage Warriors champion and promotional newcomer Rhys McKee, defeating the welterweight via first round TKO. A mere eight weeks after that he took on longtime middleweight veteran Gerald Meerschaert to pick up his third straight finish in the UFC.
A bout between Chimaev and Edwards seems like a high-risk, low-reward proposition for the man who was knocking on the door of title contention just a few months ago. But, Edwards played a tough game with the UFC—attempting to wait out the promotion for the big fight he felt he’d earned. A bout against Chimaev may just end up being the price to pay.