Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev were supposed to headline UFC Vegas 17 in December, but the fight was postponed indefinitely due to Edwards testing positive for COVID-19. After the fight fell through, It was expected that it would be rescheduled as soon as possible, and that has now been confirmed by UFC President Dana White.
In a recent interview with Aaron Bronsteter of TSN, White revealed that Edwards versus Chimaev was being targeted to headline an upcoming Fight Night card set to take place on Jan. 20. The card is one of the first events to be held during the promotion’s return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Dana White outlines the plan for three events at the start of 2021. pic.twitter.com/FtEz2IBbEx
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) December 10, 2020
Edwards has been on the sidelines for more than a year, with his most recent win coming against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on ESPN: dos Anjos vs. Edwards in July 2019. With Edwards winning his last eight fights, it was likely that he would be one or two fights away from eventually challenging for the welterweight championship. His next fight would be booked against a former champion Tyron Woodley for a March event, but that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the midst of trying to get his next fight lined up, Edwards was removed from the UFC rankings before being reintroduced after accepting a fight with Chimaev. Unfortunately, that would have to wait because of Edwards dealing with a severe case of COVID-19, which saw him lose several pounds in a few days and left him unable to train.
Chimaev has remained unbeaten since his emphatic arrival in the UFC earlier this year. He earned a submission over John Phillips in the second round of their fight at UFC on ESPN: Kattar vs. Ige and went on to return to competition just 10 days after. Chimaev made short work of Rhys McKee at UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs. Till and followed up with his second straight knockout over Gerald Meerschaert in September.
The fight with Edwards marks the first top-five ranked opponent Chimaev has received thus far in his UFC tenure.
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