The December 19 UFC main event between surging star Khamzat Chimaev and top contender Leon Edwards is off after the British-Jamaican joined his rival in recording a positive Covid-19 test ahead of the highly-anticipated fight.
Chimaev, the Chechen-born Swede who shot to stardom with two wins in the span of just 10 days on “Fight Island” this summer, was poised to take on his first UFC main event against welterweight number three Edwards in the promotion’s final event of 2020 – but, as has happened so often in a very strange year, the fight has now ended up on the coronavirus scrapheap.
Organizers announced on Tuesday that 29-year-old Edwards had withdrawn from the fight after his diagnosis was confirmed.
Chimaev, who had earlier also tested positive, had been hopeful of recovering in time to make the UFC’s year-end fight card, but it seems unlikely that Edwards will be able to follow suit.
Fast recovery and hope see you soon. @Leon_edwardsmma 👊🏼 https://t.co/ypLXg2qyKk
The news is a significant blow for both fighters. Chimaev will miss the opportunity to enter the business end of the UFC’s welterweight rankings and put a cap on what has been an extremely successful year by taking the scalp of Edwards, who is a championship caliber fighter in most people’s eyes.
For his rival, the postponement adds another dour chapter to what has been a tremendously frustrating 2020.
The Birmingham native has now missed out on three fights this year due to the pandemic – finding out that his London main event against Tyron Woodley was nixed before sacrificing a title shot against Kamaru Usman that could not go ahead.
Now it appears that both fighters will have to wait until 2021 to continue their extensive winning streaks.
Per sources, Leon Edwards’ (@Leon_edwardsmma) case of Covid-19 was pretty severe. He couldn’t train at all, and he lost 12 pounds in four days. He’s in the process of recovering at home. Wishing him a speedy and full recovery.
A freaking bad year to @Leon_edwardsmma all the BS a said wishing you a speedy recovery! 🙏🏾🙏🏾
Almost no fighter has been more unfairly impacted by this pandemic than Leon Edwards. From headlining a big card on home soil and being on the cusp of a probable title shot to this. I’m really pulling for this man to succeed when he comes back, whenever that may be. https://t.co/TuC1c0geij
News of a major fight being postponed is nothing new to the promotion, which continues to grapple with the impact of the coronavirus on its schedule.
This is the sixth time in six events that the featured fight has been impacted by the effects of virus in one way or another – and the UFC have quickly moved to install the December 19 co-headline bout between Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Geoff Neal as their new main event.
Tagging Edwards on Twitter, Chimaev told his opponent: “Fast recovery and hope to see you soon.”