The welterweight bout between top-ranked Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev has been rebooked for January 20 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
UFC President Dana White took to Instagram on Tuesday morning to announce that his “International Fight Week” is starting to materialize with a trio of cards set to highlight a week of fights on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, most notably with the rebooking of top contender Leon Edwards against Khamzat Chimaev on January 20. The news comes a little over a month since Edwards was forced to withdraw from their previously scheduled bout after testing positive for COVID-19 and being unable to make the fight.
Leon Edwards (18-3) is looking to to have an impressive victory over 2020’s Breakout Star to reassert himself as the next title challenger in the welterweight division. Edwards is riding an impressive eight fight win-streak, second in the division only to current champion Kamaru Usman, with victories over Rafael dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone, and Gunnar Nelson. “Rocky” was set for a high stakes welterweight fight in March with former champion Tyron Woodley before the global pandemic cancelled the event and travel restrictions prevented a rebooking. After passing on a title shot in July citing the inability to adequately prepare in time, Edwards was removed briefly from the rankings before accepting a bout with Chimaev in December. Edwards withdrew from the bout after becoming infected with COVID-19, reportedly having a tough case of it in losing 12 pounds in four days.
In 2020, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) turned roughly 4 minutes of cage time into a first year campaign unlike any seen in recent years. “Borz” made headlines after making his debut on Fight Island in July at middleweight and returning days later to fight at welterweight. Both times he took virtually no damage and UFC President Dana White praised his readiness and performance. In September, Chimaev faced a more seasoned UFC veteran in Gerald Meerschaert. Most expected the fight to be a tougher test, but the Swede turned in his best performance of the year in knocking out Meerschaert with one punch to earn a 17 second stoppage.
On top of the announcement, UFC President Dana White confirmed that there would be a trio of events to kick off the year on Fight Island with the bout between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar also being moved to Abu Dhabi for an International Fight Week of sorts that will culminate with the UFC 257 headlined by Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. Though still unconfirmed, White has said he hopes to have fans in attendance for a week of festivities that also includes fan-signings and other events similar to those held during Vegas annually by the UFC during Independence Day Weekend.