The UFC on ESPN+ 41 main event between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards is still on track for December 19 according to the Chimaev camp despite recent reports of a positive COVID-19 test.
On Sunday evening, it was reported by a Swedish outlet that rising UFC phenom Khamzat Chimaev had contracted the coronavirus. Naturally, this called into question whether or not he would still be headlining against Leon Edwards at UFC on ESPN+ 41 on December 19. The UFC has dealt with a slew of canceled main events as of late, including the last three cards (including this weekend’s UFC on ESPN 19) that saw short-notice replacements fill in. A cancellation to this much-anticipated main event would be devastating for all parties, including Leon Edwards, who has not fought in well over a year and was involved in one of the first COVID-related main event cancellations when he was unable to fight Tyron Woodley at UFC on ESPN 9.
Fortunately, Khamzat Chimaev’s team has informed the media that the fight is still in place and will proceed as scheduled. Not to put a damper on this reassurance, but it is worth noting that the Chimaev camp did not deny the report that Chimaev has contracted the coronavirus, so it is possible that it is just a hope and expectation that Chimaev will be clear of the virus in time to fight Edwards on the 19th.
For Khamzat Chimaev’s sake, in particular, this fight is crucial to his career trajectory, as it is not often that a #15-ranked fighter is paired against a top-5 opponent. And judging by how difficult it was to secure him an opponent in general, a fight cancellation here would likely mean returning to the campaign trail of frustration and rejection.
If the UFC and Khamzat Chimaev’s team are hoping that the coronavirus passes, that could be a repeat of what happened with Kevin Holland before he was pulled from this weekend’s UFC on ESPN 19 main event.
Over a week before Holland was pulled from the card, he posted a cryptic message on social media saying that he would not be able to compete on the card. It wasn’t until more than 10 days later and a week prior to the event that Holland was officially pulled and a replacement in Marvin Vettori very swiftly stepped in. Holland was pulled from the bout after testing positive for the coronavirus, so Holland likely knew about his positive when he announced he was off the card a week before the UFC did.
The delayed reaction from the UFC could have been so they could take a wait-and-see approach on whether or not Holland would be clear to fight in time, and there is a chance they and Khamzat Chimaev’s team are doing the same thing right now.
Are you reassured by Khamzat Chimaev’s team stating that the UFC on ESPN+41 main event is still intact?