It is the third time that Chimaev versus Edwards needs to be put on hold. Khamzat Chimaev had withdrawn from the fight previously in 2020 because of the disease, as did Edwards. The Swedish-Russian MMA sensation is suffering from lingering physical effects caused by the virus.
ESPN's Brett Okamoto reported that UFC president Dana White told him on Thursday that Khamzat Chimaev is still facing difficulties to return to his best shape after having a severe case of COVID-19.
The two were initially scheduled to fight on December 19, but Edwards had to be removed after contracting a rigorous infection related to the virus. It was reported at the time that Edwards lost twelve pounds due to the severity of his case.
The UFC rebooked the fight to January 20. However, this time it was Khamzat Chimaev who had to withdraw after testing positive to COVID-19. Like Edwards, Khamzat Chimaev also experienced a difficult battle against the virus and has not yet fully recovered.
According to White, the UFC will have to drop the fight until Khamzat Chimaev recovers his form completely. Edwards is not expected to face a different opponent, with the fight likely to be moved to a new date.
What is Khamzat Chimaev's condition after a severe case of COVID-19?
Khamzat Chimaev was seen destroying heavy bags in the first week of February in a video displaying his training ahead of the now-cancelled fight with Leon Edwards.
In addition to the footage posted by MMA Fighting, the UFC welterweight rising star also declared that he had completely recovered from the disease:
"Now I'm back to a hundred percent. My lungs are good. We work hard day after day. I've always worked hard, but we have never trained for five rounds before. Now I train extra hard with longer sessions. I want to smash him [Leon Edwards], brother. I want to destroy him," Khamzat Chimaev said.
The fight with Edwards was seen as a possible title eliminator to challenge the winner between current champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Gilbert Burns.
Khamzat Chimaev took the UFC by storm after winning his first three fights in promotion in an interval of only two months - all of them on UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.