After over 400 days of inactivity, Leon Edwards has officially been removed from the UFC rankings. While Leon Edwards was ranked at #3, his fight against Tyron Woodley this past March fell through due to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Before the COVID epidemic, Edwards was booked to fight then #1 ranked Tyron Woodley. However, travel restrictions imposed because of COVID made this impossible. In the meantime, Woodley lost to Gilbert Burns and Colby Covingtonin succession, and is currently ranked #6. Instead, Leon has frequently pushed for fights against Covington (currently ranked #1), Jorge Masvidal (currently ranked #3) or Burns (currently ranked #2 and up for a title shot). He has also expressed interest, as many have, of being the first to fight Nick Diaz after rumours that the famous welterweight might return to the octagon.
Tyron Woodley faced and lost to Gilbert Burns instead. Had it been Leon Edwards who beat Woodley, he would likely have been booked for the UFC 251 Fight Island pay-per-view.
Instead, Leon was stuck in the UK due to the COVID-19 government-mandated lockdown. He was then offered a short-notice title fight against Kamaru Usman after Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19.
According to Ariel Helwani, there has been a lot of frustration from UFC’s side over booking Leon Edwards’ next fight. Not only did he decline the short notice fight against Kamaru Usman, but he also reportedly declined four other opponents:
UFC officials have told Leon Edwards’ team that he is being removed from the UFC rankings, sources say. This comes following frustrations surrounding not being able to book his next fight. No comment yet from Edwards or UFC. Of course, they can do this since it is their rankings.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 22, 2020
It’s interesting to note that Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson wasn’t on that list. Stephen Thompson was the closest-ranked fighter to Leon Edwards that wasn’t already booked, and the Englishman turned the opportunity down. It’s not a good look for Leon Edwards, but there’s one question to ask.
Is Leon Edwards justified in turning down all the fights?
While turning down Geoff Neal and Khamzat Chimaev might be understandable, it’s a bit surprising that Leon Edwards turned down the opportunity to face the highly-ranked Colby Covington. The big issue that Leon Edwards has faced is the lack of hype and interest surrounding his fights.
Fans often drift towards active fighters, and given that nothing has worked out in the Leon camp, it’s a tough position for him to be in. The most logical fight would be against Stephen Thompson, who seems to be ready and willing to face him.
Leon is on an eight-fight win streak but hasn’t done much to help advance his position in the last year.
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