Welterweight’s number one contender fight has a third date as Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev will now meet on March 13th.
The two were originally scheduled to face each other back in December on the final card of the year, only for Edwards to withdraw after contracting COVID-19.
The UFC quickly rebooked the fight for January 20th, as part of a triple header to open the year on Fight Island in a special midweek card. That fell through almost immediately after it was announced though, as Chimaev had also tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to train properly ahead of the fight.
Edwards revealed that he offered to fight either Neil Magny or Michael Chiesa instead, who are fighting each other and will now headline UFC Fight Island 8 themselves, but the UFC rejected his request in favour of rebooking the fight with Chimaev.
That date has now been settled upon for March 13th 2021, with MMA Junkie‘s initial report confirmed by Ariel Helwani and Chimaev himself on Instagram.
The fight is expected to solidify the next contender for Kamaru Usman’s welterweight title and it will now take place after Usman’s next defence, when he takes on Gilbert Burns in February at UFC 258 in the main event.
Edwards hasn’t fought in the UFC since July 2019 due to injury and several fights falling through. He was originally scheduled to fight Tyron Woodley in March 2020 before the COVID pandemic saw the event cancelled, while he couldn’t make a short-notice call up for a title fight against Usman in July on Fight Island. That eventually went to Jorge Masvidal, who was beaten by unanimous decision.
He then called out Chimaev, who has gone 3-0 since making his UFC debut on Fight Island in July by flattening all of John Phillips, Rhys McKee and Gerald Meerschaert within just 66 days of each other.