After months and months of back and forth and over a year without a fight, Leon Edwards has finally caved and agreed to fight someone below his rank.
Edwards has insisted on fighting someone in the Top 5 in order to secure himself a title shot going forward. He was originally scheduled to fight Tyron Woodley at UFC London in March but it fell through due to COVID-19.
Since then he has called out old nemesis Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, Tyron Woodley again, Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Gilbert Burns and even the champion Kamaru Usman. A fight with none of them has come to fruition though and he has reportedly rejected fights in pursuit of those, much to the UFC’s displeasure.
This led to news breaking on Thursday evening that the UFC had informed Edwards and his team that he would be removed from the official rankings a a result of a fight not being able to be made for him.
Edwards responded to these claims, which were reported by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, by stating that he was fed up of the ‘top guys’ turning down fights against him and then called out the UFC’s newest star Khamzat Chimaev.
Chimaev, who moved to 9-0 with a crushing 17 second knockout of Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Vegas 11, responded quickly to Edwards’ call out with great excitement stating that he was ‘always ready’.
Chimaev himself has been searching for an opponent since his win over Meerschaert, which was his third win in the UFC. He has absorbed just 3 strikes in total after dominating John Phillips and Rhys McKee in his first two bouts just 10 days apart from each other.
The UFC has reportedly been trying to pair him with Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson or Demian Maia but Thompson isn’t interested in fighting down the rankings and a deal just hasn’t materialised with Maia as of now.
But with both fighters seemingly agreeing to face each other now, the UFC can surely proceed with the match-making for the fight and hopefully make it happen before the end of the year.
While Khamzat has been remarkable during his UFC run so far, he has been largely untested. John Phillips curls up into a ball at the first sign of a fight being on the ground while Rhys McKee was a prospect thrown into the lion’s den. Meerschaert was supposed to be somewhat of a threat but he looked terrified as the two met eye to eye in the cage and lasted just 17 seconds and one punch.
Edwards won’t fold in that way and will be by far and away the best fighter Chimaev has ever fought. ‘Rocky’ has got good power in his hands and is a tremendous wrestler himself, with his main tactic usually to secure a takedown and dominate from top control with ground and pound.
Chimaev’s an accomplished kickboxer as well as a solid wrestler and he’s the naturally bigger man having fought at 185lbs too but I think Edwards is a skill level or two higher than anything he’s come up against before.
Edwards would engage, wouldn’t be scared of the hype train coming forward at him and would be able to do his bit to control the fight and get a big win that could potentially elevate him to the title contender status that he is desperate for.