The highly anticipated bout between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards was canceled for the third time and won’t happen at UFC Fight Night 187 on March 13. Due to lingering issues from contracting COVID-19 in late 2020, Chimaev (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) won’t be fit to compete against Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC).
Now finally Leon Edwards has a new opponent after Khamzat Chimaev was forced out of their scheduled fight on March 13. Fresh off a dominant win over Dhiego Lima at UFC 258, Belal Muhammad has accepted a short-notice opportunity to face Edwards in the new five-round main event.
Five days removed from a win last weekend, Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) has agreed to replace Khamzat Chimaev in a five-round main event against Leon Edwards (@Leon_edwardsmma) on March 13 per sources … And if Edwards wins this, it’s gotta be a title shot next, right? Gotta be. pic.twitter.com/tFM7KdhdAQ
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 18, 2021
Multiple sources confirmed that agreements are in place from both fighters ahead of the March 13 event, which is expected to take place at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. ESPN initially reported the news. On Thursday afternoon, the UFC made the bout official.
Just last week, UFC president Dana White mentioned the promotion was looking at pairing Edwards with Colby Covington (16-2), a former welterweight title challenger who had also previously been linked to a potential bout against Jorge Masvidal.
Covington immediately made it clear, however, that he wasn’t interested in fighting Edwards, so the UFC moved on. Now, there’s another welterweight contender interested in the Covington matchup: Gilbert Burns, who just came up short in a title bid against Kamaru Usman at UFC 258 last weekend in Las Vegas.
Chimaev, of Sweden, is currently in Las Vegas receiving medical care. His manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told ESPN that they are hopeful he can return by June but that it will be contingent upon his recovery.
Leon Edwards finally has an opponent
Edwards has not fought since July 2019, when he picked up a decision victory over former UFC lightweight champion and interim welterweight title challenger Rafael dos Anjos. He was slated to fight former UFC welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, in early 2020, but the fight fell through due to the early travel restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic. He was then scheduled to fight Chimaev on three different dates, but all three attempts at making the fight fell through.
Edwards is currently on a fantastic, eight-fight winning streak, highlighted by wins over top-flight foes in Vicente Luque, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Gunnar Nelson, and dos Anjos. That streak has earned him the No. 3 spot in the UFC welterweight rankings.
Muhammad (18-3) is just five days removed from a decision win against Dhiego Lima at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. The 32-year-old is now riding a four-fight win streak and has won eight of his past nine. His three losses in the UFC have come against solid opposition in Geoff Neal, Vicente Luque, and Alan Jouban.
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