Will Chimaev Be Drafted in to Fight Edwards at UFC 269?

MMA

It was one of the most eagerly awaited fights left in 2021, and now the rug has been pulled out from underneath UFC fans.

Leon Edwards’ clash with Jorge Masvidal would have brought an end to two years’ worth of bad blood between the pair, while pitting the ever-enjoyable sight of a brawler against a technician in the Octagon.
Sadly, Masvidal has since withdrawn from the contest, although no specific reason has been given as to why.

Big Fights That Won't Be on UFC 300

The good news is that the rest of the UFC 269 card remains intact, with the ‘pick ‘em’ duel between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier. The two fighters are priced at -200 and +250 respectively in the sports betting odds, offering plenty of intrigue.

But it’s safe to say that Edwards vs Masvidal is a massive loss, and reports suggest the Englishman has given up on facing his old nemesis and will instead try to secure a welterweight title clash against the champion Kamaru Usman at some point in 2022.

Others have stepped forward and offered to fill the void left behind by the cancellation. Nick Diaz, whose brother Nate was defeated by Edwards in June, has written of his interest in attempting to secure revenge on behalf of his sibling – posting on Instagram the simple message "put me in".

Belal Muhammed, who Edwards fought earlier in 2021 to a technical draw following an accidental eye poke, has also thrown his hat into the ring, although he neither brings the ranking – he’s ninth in the welterweight division – nor the box-office star power to tempt the man named Rocky.

However, a third candidate has also made his interest known. Khamzat Chimaev is arguably the hottest rising star in MMA right now, and a scrap with Edwards would have fight fans drooling. It would represent a massive risk for the Brit to fight such a dangerous opponent, but isn’t that devil-may-care attitude in the DNA of the UFC’s best?

Renewed Acquaintances

To offer a glimpse into the confidence that Chimaev has in his own ability, he agreed to fight Edwards back in 2020 – despite the fact it would have been just his tenth professional MMA contest.
Circumstances prevented that from happening, but 18 months later both men are back fit and firing – why wouldn’t they want to lock horns now?

Circumstances prevented that from happening, but 18 months later both men are back fit and firing – why wouldn’t they want to lock horns now?

Edwards has plenty to lose given that he is eyeing a rematch with Usman, against whom he lost six years ago prior to his lengthy unbeaten run. Defeat to Chimaev would almost certainly end his hopes of a main event bout against the champion, or would at the very least require him to string a few wins together to renew faith in his abilities.

As for the Russian, taking on the number two welterweight in just his fifth UFC encounter is a no-lose scenario – he would go into the fight as an underdog, and his reputation would not be damaged by defeat given how green he is as an elite-level fighter.

Risk and reward is the equation that Edwards will have to weigh up, but if he agrees to a date with Chimaev on December 12 it would present fight fans with the ultimate early Christmas gift.

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