UFC Vegas 17 has lost it’s main event as Leon Edwards has been forced to withdraw from his fight with Khamzat Chimaev after testing positive for COVID-19.
The huge welterweight fight was due to headline the final UFC card of the year on December 19th, with the undefeated prospect Chimaev challenging the No.3 ranked Edwards in his first fight against a ranked opponent.
Edwards hasn’t fought since July 2019, after he saw a bout with Tyron Woodley scrapped in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since then he has called for fights against anyone in the top five but when they all refused to fight him or were booked against someone else, he opted to call out the high-flying Khamzat Chimaev who took the UFC by storm this summer.
After making his debut on Fight Island by destroying John Phillips, he then made a ten day turnaround to obliterate young Rhys McKee too. He followed those incredible wins with a 17 second knockout of experienced UFC veteran Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Vegas 11 back in September.
It’s reported by Brett Okamoto of ESPN that Edwards had a pretty bad case of COVID-19, with the Englishman unable to train at all during his battle with the virus and losing 12lbs in just four days.
But with the fight now scrapped, ESPN are reporting that the fight will be re-booked for early 2021 and there will be no replacement fight on the card later this month. Instead, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson’s fight with Geoff Neal is likely to now be boosted into the main event slot.
The main event cancellation makes it SIX consecutive UFC main events to be completely scrapped or amended to close out what has been a crazy year for the organisation.
First Islam Makhachev was forced to withdraw from his fight with Rafael Dos Anjos and was replaced by Paul Felder on five days notice. The following event was UFC 255, where the original main event had Cody Garbrandt challenging Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title. He suffered an injury and Alex Perez stepped in to claim his title shot.
Following that Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19 moments before the weigh-ins and his fight with Derrick Lewis was cancelled, with Anthony Smith and Devin Clark stepping in on one day’s notice to take the main event slot. Jack Hermansson is on his third opponent now following withdrawals of Darren Till and Kevin Holland for his UFC Vegas 16 main event, where he will now take on Marvin Vettori.
UFC 256 has been the most affected card, with three different title fights falling apart since announcement. Kamaru Usman withdrew from his fight with Gilbert Burns due to injury, which led to Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling stepping in for a bantamweight title fight. Amanda Nunes was forced to withdraw from her title defence against Megan Anderson through injury, before the Yan/Sterling fight fell apart also. That will now be headlined by Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno making a three-week turnaround to fight for the flyweight championship.