Today, Ariel Helwani of ESPN confirmed that Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev is “a done deal” for a UFC Fight Night card on December 19.
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The news comes just one day after Edwards was suddenly removed from the UFC rankings in what was obviously a strongarm play by the UFC to encourage him to take the fight against the currently unranked welterweight fighter.
For now, it seems that Edwards — who had essentially already earned a title shot — has been bullied into taking a fight with Chimaev, who has had just one fight in the welterweight division.
Matthew Wells starts expresses his confusion about the matchmaking. He says the UFC clearly backed Edwards into a corner by taking him out of the rankings. He hates that this fight is being made and says that we’re now closing out the year with a fight that makes no sense.
Ant Walker also agrees that this is “horrible, horrible matchmaking and shady business practices.” He says Edwards really should be fighting Usman for the title or at least another top contender. The decision to remove Edwards from the rankings is “disturbing,” especially since inactive fighters such as Conor McGregor still remain in the UFC rankings to this day.
And now, Edwards, who was supposed to fight Tyron Woodley in March before COVID-19 killed those plans, will go from almost facing a former champion to now fighting an unranked welterweight fighter.
Wells and Walker agree that the UFC’s decision may backfire.
Edwards isn’t the only one being screwed by the UFC. If Chimaev loses to Edwards in December, it’s likely that his hype will diminish and his remarkably smooth pathway to stardom has been interrupted prematurely. The UFC recognized Conor McGregor would be a major star for the promotion, yet it took six fights for him to eventually reach Jose Aldo. Why is the promotion opting for this different route?
The UFC is taking a huge gamble that could blow up in their face.
At the end of the day, Edwards was pressured into accepting a fight that is nowhere close to the best interests of his career.
What do you think about Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev? Let us know in the comments below.
Is it too soon for Chimaev? Or is he ready for Edwards right now?
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.