The third time wasn’t a charm for Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev as their March 13th bout has been scrapped once again.
The two were originally supposed to fight back in December, only for Edwards to withdraw following a bout of COVID-19 that saw him bed-bound for several weeks and unable to train. The fight was rebooked for Fight Island in January, but was quickly cancelled again with Chimaev this time suffering from the virus that has shut the world down.
The UFC booked the fight for a third time, but with Chimaev still suffering from the lingering effects of the virus he has been forced to withdraw again and the UFC have now decided to move on from the bout.
President Dana White revealed prior to UFC 258 that they were looking at making a fight between Edwards and number one ranked Colby Covington instead, with the winner to face Kamaru Usman or Gilbert Burns for the title.
With Usman’s spectacular win over Burns in the main event at the weekend, he moved to call out Jorge Masvidal for a rematch from their UFC 251 encounter where they fought on six-days notice and Usman earned a dominant decision win.
In the post-fight press conference, White confirmed that he’d be interested in making the fight since the champion wants it but stated that he believed ‘Rocky’ or Covington probably deserved it more.
A bout between Birmingham’s Edwards and Covington would be a true title eliminator bout. Edwards is currently on an eight-fight win streak, unbeaten since he lost to Usman back in 2015 while Covington’s only defeat in that time frame also came to Usman in 2019 in their undisputed title fight.
Edwards hasn’t been able to compete in the octagon for almost two years now, having seen a fight with Tyron Woodley collapse due to COVID-19 in March last year before the saga with Chimaev began. He has been demanding of a top five opponent but when he couldn’t get one, he opted to take out the UFC’s shiny new toy who made a huge impression after winning three fights in 66 days last summer.
The fight never really made sense for Edwards on paper though, but he just wanted to get back in the cage. The fact it’s fallen through now and the UFC is actively looking to make him a fight against someone so highly ranked is a positive though.
A win over Covington makes his title shot undeniable and adds another big name to his CV after Rafael Dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone and adds more legitimacy to his run. Covington has fought just once since his defeat to Usman, dominating against former champion Woodley to a fifth round stoppage.
One win isn’t usually enough to get you back into a title fight straight away after losing, just ask Robert Whittaker. But a win for Covington means he will have earned himself a rematch the right way and knocked off another top contender.
While Edwards and Chimaev was intriguing, it was just a way for the UFC to strap a rocket to the Russian’s back and push him to the moon. A win would have seen him jump the queue and get a title shot, while a defeat would’ve been seen as something that Edwards was supposed to do considering their rankings.
Covington vs Edwards is the right fight to make and with Usman now seemingly targeting a fight with Masvidal again, you have yourself a mini tournament off the bat with a side story to every single outcome.
It makes sense and it’s the most logical plan at this point to make everyone happy. Get it done Dana!