Leon Edwards was first supposed to face Tyron Woodley in London this past March, but COVID-19 lockdown complications prevented the fight from happening. Ariel Helwani recently reported that Leon Edwards refused five different fights, including a short-notice title fight against Kamaru Usman.
While Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson appeared to be the most logical opponent for Leon Edwards to secure a title shot, that didn't happen as Edwards declined to fight the former Welterweight title challenger.
Recently, Leon Edwards was removed from the UFC rankings despite being #3 due to over 400 days of inactivity. Edwards would then go on to call out the rising but unranked Khamzat Chimaev - who accepted his challenge quickly:
Mike Bohn of MMAJunkie tweeted out that Dana White told Jim Rome on his show that UFC has reached a deal between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev:
It's a bit of a surprising move from Leon Edwards, and one has to wonder whether this is an instant reaction to being removed from the rankings. The sad reality is that UFC can keep Conor McGregor in the Lightweight top five despite his last win in the division coming back in 2016.
Ultimately, it's about popularity and relevancy, and it has been agreed upon that Leon Edwards hasn't done much to stay relevant in his time away.
Is Leon Edwards too big a step up for Khamzat Chimaev?
Leon Edwards appears to be a big step up in competition for the unranked Khamzat Chimaev. He has been floating back and forth from Middleweight to Welterweight, and a win over a top-ranked opponent like Leon Edwards would make the Swedish rising star jump right into the top five rankings.
It would be interesting to see, but the consensus would appear to be that Leon Edwards could show Chimaev that there are truly levels to the game. It's going to be Chimaev's biggest test to date, and if he passes it with flying colors, a title shot will be knocking on the door very shortly.Published 24 Oct 2020, 02:53 IST