The welterweight match-up between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev has been derailed for a third time.
UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Thursday that the March 13 bout was off after Chimaev once again had to withdraw from the fight because of lingering effects from COVID-19.
The bout was initially booked for Dec. 19, but was scrapped after Edward s withdrew while dealing with a serious case of COVID-19. It was rescheduled for Jan. 20, but canceled after Chimaev withdrew because of lingering health issues from his own bout with COVID-19.
With his health issues persisting, White told ESPN that the UFC was going to move on from the Edwards match-up and give Chimaev time to fully recover. They will instead move on to another match-up for Edwards.
“I’m so bummed out. I was so excited. That was one of my favorite fights this year,” White told ESPN. “The one thing you have to look at right now is health. Let’s make sure this guy is healthy, get him the best care we can and make sure he makes a full recovery.”
Is it time for Leon Edwards vs. Stephen Thompson?
Though White didn’t say who the UFC had in mind, he indicated that matchmaker Sean Shelby was already hard at work to line up an opponent.
It might not prove to be too difficult of a task. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson was quick to step up and offer to fight Edwards.
“Hoping for a full recover for Khamzat Chimaev,” Thompson wrote on Twitter. He then added, “Leon Edwards, let’s give the fans what they want to see! No. 3 vs. No. 5!”
Edwards is currently ranked No. 3 in the UFC welterweight division. Thompson sits at No. 5. Chimaev is currently ranked No. 15. So the match-up with Thompson would actually be an upgrade for Edwards, at least in regard to rankings.
Edwards is 18-3 and on an eight-fight winning streak. He was streaking toward a title shot, but hasn’t fought since July 20, 2019.
COVID-19 restrictions nixed a fight with former champ Tyron Woodley in 2020. Edwards then had a tough time lining up a fight with the UFC before settling on Chimaev. The constant rescheduling of that bout has led to now, where he needs to find a new opponent. Perhaps Thompson will fit the bill.
Kamaru Usman: Burns is the most Dangerous Guy for me | UFC 258 Media Day
(Subscribe to MMAWeekly.com on YouTube)