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Khamzat Chimaev out of UFC Fight Island 8 main event with Leon Edwards

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Khamzat Chimaev (right) needed just 17 seconds to stop Gerald Meerschaert (left) in his most recent UFC bout
Zuffa LLC

UFC Fight Island 8 needs a new headliner after rising sensation Khamzat Chimaev was forced to withdraw from a welterweight showdown with Leon Edwards, MMA Fighting has learned. Frontkick first reported the news.

It’s still unclear why Chimaev won’t be fighting on Jan. 20, and whether or not the promotion will keep Edwards in the main event against a different opponent. Neil Magny, who is currently booked to face Michael Chiesa on the same card, was expected to serve as a backup for the main event.

Edwards vs. Chimaev was originally set for Dec. 19 in Las Vegas, but was postponed to one of the Abu Dhabi cards after the Jamaica-born 170-pounder tested positive for COVID-19.

“Rocky” Edwards (18-3) hasn’t competed since July 2019, when he scored his eighth straight victory with a dominant decision over Rafael dos Anjos. Edwards, who also had a five-round bout with Tyron Woodley cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, holds wins over the likes of Gunnar Nelson, Donald Cerrone and Vicente Luque.

Chimaev (9-0) was named MMA Fighting’s Breakout Fighter of the Year after demolishing John Phillips, Rhys McKee and Gerald Meerschaert in a span of 66 days.