UFC’s fasting rising star, Khamzat Chimaev, is out of his scheduled bout against No. 3 ranked welterweight Leon Edwards, according to a report from RT Sport.
First reported by Front Kick Online, RT Sport confirmed with sources “close to the situation” that Chimaev vs. Edwards is no longer set for the January 20th UFC card on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
❌ Khamzat Chimaev vs. Leon Edwards is OFF after RT Sport confirmed with sources close to the situation, after an initial report from @FrontkickOnline
The welterweight main event, set for January 20th on UFC Fight Island will no longer go ahead for reasons which remain unclear. pic.twitter.com/l7C4kLrYfd
— RT Sport (@RTSportNews) December 29, 2020
Chimaev was forced out of the bout because his lungs have not recovered fully from COVID-19.
Statement on Khamzhat Chimaev (@KChimaev), via his manager Ali Abdelaziz (@AliAbdelaziz00). "Khamzat had coronavirus and when he went back to gym, his lungs did not recover 100%. He needs time for his lungs to recover, and right now it's about taking that necessary time."
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 30, 2020
The match has been highly anticipated by fans and already suffered one cancellation before when Edwards was forced out of their December 19 match. With Chimaev out, it is also unclear if “Rocky” will remain on the card and fight somebody else. Edwards wants to fight, tweeting, “Rest up Khamzat, i’m sure ill see you soon. But I want to fight January 20th on the island @danawhite @seanshelby @ufc let’s make it happen.”
— Leon 'Rocky' Edwards (@Leon_edwardsmma) December 29, 2020
Chimaev (9-0) made his debut in the UFC this summer and has won all three of his fights by finish. Edwards (18-3) is riding an impressive eight-fight win streak, defeating the likes of former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos and Gunnar Nelson.
This story is still developing.
ALL the latest UFC news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on UFC newsletter here!
Chimaev Received a Shot to Jump the Line at Welterweight
Chimaev burst onto the UFC scene in July when he made his promotional debut against John Phillips in the middleweight division. “Borz” dominated Phillips, defeating him in the second round via submission. He then made a 10-day turnaround and took on Rhys McKee in the welterweight division and won by first-round TKO.
Less than two months later, on September 19, Borz stepped into the Octagon for the third time and knocked out Gerald Meerschaert at middleweight in only 17 seconds.
Due to his skyrocketing popularity, Chimaev was then scheduled to fight Edwards, who is ranked No. 3 at welterweight. Borz is currently ranked No. 15 in the division and if he earned a win over Edwards, Chimaev would insert himself as a bonafide top contender.
In his nine professional victories, Chimaev has won six fights via KO/TKO and three by submission.
Follow the Heavy on UFC Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Edwards Hasn’t Competed In the UFC for Over a Year
Rocky was scheduled to fight multiple times in the UFC this year, but due to COVID-19, his fight plans were derailed. Edwards, who is from England, was set to fight former welterweight champ Tyron Woodley in London in March, however the event was canceled because of COVID-19.
Edwards was then scheduled to fight Chimaev on December 19 but Rocky contracted the virus and was forced off the card. Rocky’s last fight was in July 2019 when he defeated dos Anjos via unanimous decision. In his 12 UFC bouts, Edwards has gone 10-2 and has won 10 of his last 11 fights, with his only loss coming to the current welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman.
With his record of 18-3, Rocky has won six fights by KO/TKO, three by submission and nine by decision.