Injuries and fight cancellations have been a source of frustration for UFC fans for years now. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has perhaps been responsible for more UFC fight cancellations than ever before.
It has now been announced that, once again, COVID-19 has put paid to the planned fight between UFC Welterweight stars Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards.
Whether the UFC can finally manage to get the duo into the Octagon later in 2021 is anyone’s guess right now. But for now at least, the Chimaev vs Edwards fight joins an unfortunate list of UCF fights that have fallen apart more than once.
Here are five such jinxed UFC fights that were cancelled on multiple occasions.
#1 Khamzat Chimaev vs Leon Edwards – UFC Welterweight division
We may as well start with the most recent fight to join this list.
After Khamzat Chimaev exploded onto the UFC scene in mid-2020 with three impressive wins in a row, it was clear that he needed a step up. And so the UFC matchmakers paired him with highly ranked Welterweight contender Leon Edwards.
The fight was initially pegged to main event the UFC Fight Night show on December 19th, 2020. But about a month before that, Edwards contracted COVID-19.
When it became clear that ‘Rocky’ wouldn’t be able to make the date, the UFC nixed the fight and promised to re-book it later down the line. They chose January 20th as the date, but this time, Chimaev contracted COVID-19.
And subsequently, again with a month to go, the fight was scrapped, with ‘Borz’ being the one to cite ongoing issues with the virus this time.
Edwards reportedly asked the UFC to match him against a different opponent on the same card, but instead, they opted to re-book him against Chimaev in March. Now, however, it has been announced that Chimaev – who is still suffering COVID-19 symptoms – cannot fight on that date either.
This time, the report does suggest that the UFC will 'move on' from the fight, with Edwards expected to face a different opponent instead. Whether the UFC revisits the booking in the future now remains to be seen.
#2 Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson – UFC Lightweight division
Easily the most jinxed fight in UFC history, the match-up between Lightweight superstars Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson was somehow cancelled on as many as five separate occasions.
And with Nurmagomedov now retired, it seems highly unlikely that we’ll ever get to see this amazing-sounding fight.
The two were first pegged to face off all the way back in 2014, when both men were still rising through the ranks of the UFC’s Lightweight division. However, their fight at the TUF 22 finale fell through when Nurmagomedov was forced out with an injury, leaving Ferguson to defeat Edson Barboza instead.
Next, it was Ferguson’s turn to drop out. ‘El Cucuy’ was forced out of the rebooked fight in April 2016, thanks to a lung issue, with Khabib beating Darrell Horcher in his place.
By the time 2017 came around, with both men continuing to win fights, the UFC simply couldn’t move on from the pairing. They were booked to main event UFC 209 for the interim UFC Lightweight title, only for Khabib to fall ill due to a bad weight cut, which led to the fight getting cancelled again.
A year later, the UFC attempted to book the match-up for a fourth time, only for Ferguson to injure his knee during the build-up to the fight at UFC 223. This time, UFC President Dana White seemed determined to move on from the fight.
However, by the time 2020 began, the pairing was still the most viable UFC Lightweight title fight. And so the UFC attempted to book the fight for a fifth time, this time at UFC 249. Incredibly, both fighters remained healthy – only for the COVID-19 pandemic to put paid to the event!
The idea of any fight being cancelled on five occasions is simply unprecedented, making Nurmagomedov vs Ferguson the most jinxed fight in UFC history.
#3 Cain Velasquez vs Fabricio Werdum – UFC Heavyweight division
When Fabricio Werdum defeated Travis Browne in April 2014, he became the top contender for UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez’s title.
But rather than book the fight right away, the UFC delayed – making the two men the coaches for the inaugural season of TUF: Latin America.
That turned out to be an error, as Velasquez suffered a knee injury and was forced out of their planned fight at UFC 180. Werdum remained on the card, beat Mark Hunt for the interim Heavyweight title, and the UFC re-booked him against Velasquez at UFC 188.
This time the fight did go ahead, with Werdum winning via a second-round guillotine choke. However, the jinx on the fight from its first cancellation still seemed to stick.
The UFC booked an immediate rematch for UFC 196 in February 2016, only for both men to withdraw citing injuries. This time, the result was the cancellation of the entire pay-per-view!
From there, the UFC appeared to give up and move away from the pairing. However, by the end of 2016, they decided to try again.
A rematch was booked at UFC 207. But this time, the fight was nixed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, with question marks hanging over Velasquez’s health.
That would be the final time the UFC would attempt to book Werdum vs Velasquez. With three cancellations, it stands as one of the most jinxed fights in UFC history.
#4 Chris Weidman vs Vitor Belfort – UFC Middleweight division
After destroying Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson in 2013, Vitor Belfort found himself positioned as the top contender to UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
Incredibly though, the two would not fight until midway through 2015, with their clash being scratched from three straight UFC events.
Their initial booking was in the main event of UFC 173 in May 2014. However, with the Nevada State Athletic Commission deciding to ban testosterone replacement therapy in the months prior to the event, Belfort was forced out.
‘The Phenom’ would later reveal that he had actually failed a random drug test for elevated testosterone levels in February 2014, three months before the scheduled fight.
The UFC still considered Belfort to be the #1 contender, though, and re-booked him against Weidman at UFC 181 in December 2014.
This time, the champion was the one to withdraw, citing a broken hand. The UFC moved the clash to February 2015’s UFC 184, only for Weidman to once again suffer an injury, cancelling the fight for a third time.
The two Middleweights finally stepped into the Octagon at UFC 187 – almost exactly a year after they were originally set to fight. Chris Weidman retained his UFC Middleweight title with a second-round TKO, but his injury issues continue to plague him to this day.
#5 Yair Rodriguez vs Zabit Magomedsharipov – UFC Featherweight division
Often considered the 'heir' to Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov as the UFC’s most jinxed fight, the Featherweight showdown between Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov has been scrapped on four occasions to date.
Initially, the UFC looked to book this exciting fight at UFC 227 in August 2018. However, it was never made official, and it came to light that Rodriguez was to blame.
Reportedly, ‘El Pantera’ outright turned down the fight, resulting in the UFC releasing him from his contract. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and weeks later, Rodriguez was back. This time he agreed to fight Zabit, and the pairing was moved onto UFC 228 in September 2018.
However, evidently, the fight was now jinxed. Three weeks before the event, Rodriguez withdrew citing an injury, leaving Magomedsharipov to beat replacement Brandon Davis.
The UFC appeared to be willing to move on from the fight from there. Magomedsharipov defeated Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar in 2019, while Rodriguez also embarked on two fights with Stephens.
But by August 2020, the promotion decided to re-visit the pairing, and booked them as the main event of UFC Vegas 8. Once again though, disaster struck, as Rodriguez was forced out with an ankle injury.
This time, the UFC rescheduled the fight for UFC 254. But again, Yair Rodriguez withdrew, and in December, it was announced that he’d been suspended by the USADA for failing to attend a drug test.
‘El Pantera’ is eligible to fight again in March, so only time will tell whether the UFC will re-book this fight for a fifth time.