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The Ultimate Fighting Championship event on March 13 is under assault on Thursday.
Hours after the news broke that Ryan Hall would no longer be competing in his significant UFC Fight Night 187 main card tilt with Dan Ige, the March 13 event has taken another massive hit. ESPN announced on Thursday that Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) has been forced out of his welterweight pairing with Leon Edwards (18-3) due to persistent symptoms and issues after contracting COVID-19. The two were originally booked against one another in December, but Edwards pulled out after coming down with the coronavirus. Their meeting in January was similarly nixed due to the virus, only this time it was Chimaev that tested positive for it.
UFC President Dana White told ESPN that the organization is looking to move on from this matchup instead of re-booking it for the fourth time. Edwards may receive a new opponent atop this card, but White also mentioned that “Rocky” may face a new opponent on a different date instead.
Edwards was looking to return to action for the first time since July 2019. Several bouts have fallen out since that time for a variety of reasons mostly related to COVID-19. “Rocky” is still on an impressive eight-fight win streak that has seem him defeat the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone and Vicente Luque on his way to the top of the 170-pound division. The Brit’s last loss in over five years came against current champ Kamaru Usman.
One of 2020’s more successful combat sports stories came for Chimaev, who burst on to the scene with a dominant win over John Phillips in July 2020. “Borz” went on to knock out Rhys McKee, and then returned to middleweight to scorch Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds. Unbeaten as a pro since his debut in 2018, the Swedish-Chechen fighter has yet to reach the third round in his career, with all nine wins by stoppage. In comparison, Edwards has fought to the third round in each of his last 10 appearances.
The struggling UFC Fight Night 187 event is still expected to take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, although it does not currently have a headliner nor a clear co-main event bout. While it did gain a lightweight bout of Nasrat Haqparast vs. Don Madge on Thursday, it lost Ryan Hall’s return at featherweight against Dan Ige. Ben Rothwell will take on Philipe Lins at heavyweight, and Eryk Anders is still facing Darren Stewart at middleweight.