Late last night news broke that a main event fight between Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev had been cancelled. Though, no official reason was given.
Now, if Combate is correct, it seems as though COVID-19 has twice scuppered the plans to have top welterweight contender Edwards take on the surging newcomer Chimaev. Combate reports that Chimaev was pulled from the bout after he contracted the virus.
The 9-0 Chimaev was scheduled to take on his hardest opponent to date in the main event of the UFC’s January 20th card, taking place at ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi. UAE. Originally the pair were due to tangle at this month’s UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Neal, at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, but a COVID-19 diagnosis for Edwards cancelled those plans.
Reportedly, Edwards suffered severe symptoms from COVID-19, along with a dramatic weight loss. That bout of illness pushed Edwards time outside of the cage to over 17 months. His last fight was a unanimous decision win over former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on ESPN 4.
Combate reports that the UFC is trying to keep Edwards on the Fight Island card. That outlet states that Michael Chiesa and Vincente Luque are possible replacements.
Edwards fight with Chimaev came about after the Englishman was removed from the UFC’s welterweight rankings for inactivity. Edwards was given back his 3rd place spot in the rankings after taking a fight with the much hyped Chimaev.
Edwards’ stature in the welterweight division comes off the back of eight straight wins and victories over the likes of Gunnar Nelson, Donald Cerrone and Vincente Luque.
Chimaev’s 15th spot in the rankings comes after three impressive victories in the UFC Octagon. In July he won his promotional debut with a d’arce choke submission over John Phillips. He followed that up with a TKO of Rhys McKee and a seventeen-second KO of Gerald Meerschaert.