Sunday, February 28, 2021

Leon Edwards Calls Into Question UFC’s Attempts To Replace Chimaev

Leon Edwards is tired of waiting to return to action.

The last time Leon Edwards competed in a UFC Octagon was in July of 2019. The reason for this long layoff isn’t because of a serious injury that he needed to recuperate from or because of intense contract negotiations. In fact, there may be no clear singular reason for the layoff at all. The closest thing to such an explanation is the fact that the UFC is determined to follow through with actualizing a fight between Edwards and 2020 breakthrough star Khamzat Chimaev. 

Leon Edwards initially had no interest in fighting Chimaev due to the rankings and experience disparity. Eventually, he would cave and agree to take on the rising star. The two were originally scheduled to compete on December 19 on the final card of the year, but Edwards came down with COVID. This resulted in the fight being pushed back to January 20. Unfortunately, Chimaev, who also had contracted the virus, did not recover in time to be fully prepared to compete by the new date.

Leon Edwards’ Requests Denied

UFC on ESPN 4 in Tweets: Pros react to Leon Edwards' decision win over Rafael  dos Anjos, Greg Hardy's quick TKO finish - MMA Fighting
Leon Edwards outlanding Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on ESPN: Edwards vs. Dos Anjos Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

After the second cancellation, there were reports that the UFC was looking to replace Chimaev and keep Edwards on the card. If that’s the case, the UFC brass swiftly changed its mind. Because according to Edwards, the two names he pitched for opponents were shot down.

“I offered to fight Neil or Chiesa in the main event Jan. 20 and Chimaev straight after, but the UFC decided against it,” Edwards commented on an Instagram post.

Now it may still be true that the UFC sought replacements for Chimaev but wanted to keep Magny/Chimaev’s bout intact. However, the UFC has recently had backup fighters on deck in case something goes awry in the main event’s booking. Therefore, it is still at least somewhat contradictory that they would overlook both Magny and Chiesa when both men were available to fill in.

Either way, the biggest takeaway from the UFC’s rejection of Edwards’ request and the one thing we know for certain is that the UFC is still doing everything in its power to book Khamzat Chimaev against the #3-ranked Leon Edwards come hell or high water.

Do you believe the UFC ever truly looked for a Khamzat Chimaev replacement to fight Leon Edwards?