Leon Edwards vs Khamzat Chimaev is the fight UFC president Dana White ‘loves’ but is turning into the new Khabib vs Ferguson

Leon Edwards vs Khamzat Chimaev is the fight UFC president Dana White ‘loves’ but is turning into the new Khabib vs Ferguson
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Leon Edwards makes his long awaited return to the octagon against Belal Muhammed in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

It will be great to see the 29-year-old Brit back after nearly two years since he last fought.

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Edwards has not fought since 2019 with the global pandemic not making it easy to make his living

His last fight was a win against Rafael dos Anjos way back in July 2019 – it’s easy to forget that Edwards is actually on an eight-fight win streak.

His last defeat was against Kamaru Usman in 2015, but since then he’s been an unstoppable force.

The near two-year absence was never part of the plan with the MMA fighter having fights cancelled.

Edwards was due to face Tyron Woodley last March, but the coronavirus pandemic initially forced it to be moved to London before it was scrapped entirely.

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Khamzat Chimaev has emerged as one of the most dangerous fighters at both welterweight and middleweight

The welterweight was then scheduled to face up-and-coming star Khamzat Chimaev, but that fight was cancelled three times before Edwards got a new opponent.

Edwards vs Chimaev is a great match-up and it’s a real shame we won’t get to see it.

UFC boss Dana White persisted in trying to get it on, but eventually the situation forced his hand.

“That’s the fight to make,” White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. “I love that fight. They both already agreed to it, so we’ll get it figured out. 

“We’ll turn that around as quick as we can. Just want to make sure both guys are healthy; both guys had COVID.”

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Edwards has won his last eight UFC fights in a run stretching back to 2015

It feels like Edwards vs Chimaev could turn out to be the new Khabib vs Ferguson.

For years White tried to make that fight but each and every time it got cancelled through injury or illness.

Five times White tried to put it on, most recently in 2020 before Khabib had to withdraw. Justin Gaethje was named as the replacement and proceeded to beat Ferguson.

Edwards was initially due to face Chimaev on December 19, 2020 before the latter tested positive for coronavirus.

Edwards himself then tested positive, which meant it was pushed back to January 20 but the Russian was forced to withdraw due to his own COVID-19 recovery.

White then moved the fight to March 13, but Chimaev again was not ready due to the lingering effects of the virus.

He was replaced by Belal Muhammed to set up Edwards’ first fight in nearly two years.

2020 Josh Hedges

Dana White is still keen to put on Edwards vs Chimaev

Edwards told talkSPORT earlier this month he will be glad to get back into the octagon after such a long absence.

“When the fight was cancelled for the third time, I was happy the UFC offered to keep me on the card,” he said.

“Because before, when it got cancelled a second time in January for Fight Island, they were like straight away let’s reschedule. This time, it was like OK, let’s keep you on the card and find you someone else.

“Straight away, Dana said we want you to fight Colby Covington. I said OK, I’ll be up for that. So it went to Colby and they said to you want to fight Leon Edwards and he just blatantly turned it down.

“He made excuses like all the top guys do. So we went down the division to see who was available and Belal was man enough to step up.

“He only had a fight two weeks ago or something like that so he was already in shape and said he would do it. So, respect to Belal for stepping up.”