Chimaev was a breakthrough fighter of 2020 as he went 3-0 in December he was supposed to face Edwards. However, the Brit tested positive for COVID-19, and the UFC rebooked it for January 20 on Fight Island. Yet, on Tuesday, it was revealed Chimaev was out of the fight, and his manager has now explained why.
"Khamzat had coronavirus and when he went back to gym, his lungs did not recover 100%. He needs time for his lungs to recover, and right now it's about taking that necessary time," Abdelaziz said in a statement to ESPN.
When Chimaev will be able to return is uncertain at this point. But, his sole focus is on healing up and overcoming the virus.
Who will replace Khamzat Chimaev?
With January 20 only three weeks away, the clock is ticking on who the UFC will bring in to fight Leon Edwards. The Brit has made it clear he wants to fight on that date and wished Chimaev well in his recovery.
Khamzat Chimaev's incredible 2020
At the beginning of 2020, not many people in the MMA world knew who Khamzat Chimaev was. The Swede was an undefeated prospect and stepped up on short notice against John Phillips, dominating the fight en route to a second-round submission. "Borz" then followed it up with a TKO win over Rhys McKee ten days later and a KO win over Gerald Meerscheart in September.
The hope for Chimaev is to still get a top-ranked welterweight when he is healthy, and then to fight for the belt in 2021. He has his sights on becoming a champion.
“(Usman is) a good fighter, but doesn’t have that knockout punch like I have and he doesn’t have wrestling like me,” Chimaev said. “What is he going to do? If I do my hard work in the gym, nobody can beat me in the fight.
“I think Paulo Costa was scared in this fight,” Chimaev said. “I don’t know why people are scared to go in the cage and fight. In the gym, everybody’s tough, like hard sparring. Then (they) come to the cage, they are being chicken. I don’t understand this mentality.
“(Adesanya is) good in the standup, but nobody did wrestling against him. Yoel Romero, he only threw three or four punches in the standup. … I can beat this guy. How is he going to come up from under me if I take him down? I don’t think he will. I’m going to beat his face.”
For now, Khamzat Chimaev is healing up and will be eager to return as soon as he can.