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Dana White plans to rebook Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev as Jan. 20 headliner on Fight Island

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Khamzat Chimaev
Zuffa LLC

After COVID-19 cancelled their first scheduled meeting at UFC Vegas 17, UFC President Dana White plans to rebook Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev for a winter event in Abu Dhabi.

An event set for Jan. 20 is targeted to host the pivotal welterweight matchup, White told TSN. The Fight Island event is part of a series that’s planned to take place on Yas Island, though the UFC has not made official the locations for its early 2021 event schedule.

Edwards, who’s on an eight-fight winning streak, was forced to withdraw from the Dec. 19 bout with Chimaev due to a positive COVID-19 test after Chimaev was reportedly stricken with the same ailment but not ruled out of competition.

Edwards campaigned aggressively for a title fight after beating ex-lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos at welterweight, and he was set to take on ex-welterweight champ Tyron Woodley when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Unable to come to terms on his next fight, Edwards was removed from the UFC rankings and subsequently agreed to take on Chimaev, one of the most heavily hyped fighters in the promotion’s recent history.

Chimaev, who hails from Chechnya but was trained in Sweden at Allstar Training Center, has beaten three straight opponents in three months, including two in back-to-back weeks. After a first-round knockout of veteran Gerald Meerschaert, he was earmarked for a headlining fight against a top-ranked opponent. Initially, Demian Maia was pitched, but Edwards wound up taking the fight.