Stephen Thompson has ‘respectfully’ asked to stand in for Khamzat Chimaev in the Leon Edwards fight.
“Hoping for a full recovery for @KChimaev!! @Leon_edwardsmma let’s give the fans what they want to see! #3 vs #5! #makessense #Respectfully”
As reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, UFC president Dana White has confirmed that Khamzat Chimaev is out of his welterweight matchup against Leon Edwards. Chimaev was scheduled to fight Edwards in the main event of UFC Fight Night 187 on March 13th, 2021.
Dana White revealed that Khamzat Chimaev has been dealing with lingering physical effects caused by COVID-19. Chimaev is facing problems with his lungs and is going to be put on medication again. White stated:
"I'm so bummed out. I was so excited. That was one of my favorite fights this year…The one thing you have to look at right now is health. Let's make sure this guy is healthy, get him the best care we can and make sure he makes a full recovery."
The Khamzat Chimaev vs. Leon Edwards matchup was considered a pivotal fight in the welterweight division, with its winner likely earning the next shot at the UFC welterweight title. However, with Chimaev out of the fight, Edwards is now left without an opponent for his upcoming fight.
Dana White suggested that the UFC is moving on from the Khamzat Chimaev vs. Leon Edwards matchup. White explained that UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby is working on booking Edwards for another fight.
Could Stephen Thompson replace Khamzat Chimaev against Leon Edwards?
Stephen Thompson’s most recent fight was a unanimous decision win over Geoff Neal in December 2020. On the other hand, Leon Edwards’ last fight was a unanimous decision win over Rafael dos Anjos in July 2019.
Meanwhile, Khamzat Chimaev’s most recent fight was a first-round KO win over Gerald Meerschaert in September 2020. Chimaev was considered one of MMA’s breakout stars in 2020, going 3-0 and earning all three victories via stoppage.
This is the third time that the Khamzat Chimaev vs. Leon Edwards matchup has fallen apart. Chimaev and Edwards were initially scheduled to face each other at UFC Fight Night 183 (December 19th, 2020). However, Edwards and Chimaev both contracted COVID-19 at the time.
The fight ended up being rebooked for UFC Fight Night 185 (January 20th, 2021). However, it was eventually revealed that Chimaev was still dealing with issues related to COVID-19.
The fight was resultantly postponed once again and rebooked for UFC Fight Night 187 (March 13th, 2021). Regardless, with Khamzat Chimaev now out of the fight, Stephen Thompson has offered his services to step in and fight Leon Edwards at UFC Fight Night 187.
Whether or not the UFC books Stephen Thompson vs. Leon Edwards is likely to be revealed in the days to come.