Khamzat Chimaev has been a human wrecking machine since first arriving in the UFC, but the highly touted prospect had his toughest fight yet against an invisible enemy.
On Tuesday, Chimaev was forced out of his scheduled main event fight against Leon Edwards on Jan. 20, although at the time no reason was given for his withdrawal.
Now it’s been revealed that the 26-year-old undefeated fighter was still dealing with lingering issues as a result of a battle against COVID-19.
“Khamzat had coronavirus and when he went back to gym, his lungs did not recover 100 percent,” Chimaev’s manager Ali Abdelaziz said in a statement initially released to ESPN. “He needs time for his lungs to recover, and right now it’s about taking that necessary time.”
Combate was first to report COVID issues were the cause of Chimaev’s withdrawal.
Chimaev first arrived in the UFC back in July and he promptly won back-to-back fights over just 10 days while competing at both middleweight and welterweight.
He then returned in September where he demolished Gerald Meerschaert with a brutal first-round knockout to remain undefeated in the UFC.
That set up Chimaev with a showdown against Edwards, who is currently riding an eight-fight win streak while being ranked in the top five at welterweight.
Unfortunately, Edwards had to deal with his own battle against COVID-19 as the British fighter suffered the ill effects of the deadly virus, which actually caused him to lose significant weight while he was attempting to recover.
Edwards was eventually cleared to return to action with plans to fight Chimaev as the main event for the upcoming UFC card on Jan. 20 in Abu Dhabi.
Now with Chimaev sidelined while still recovering from COVID-19, that fight has been scrapped, although Edwards has said he hopes to remain on the card against a different opponent. As of now, the UFC has made no official announcement regarding Chimaev being forced off the card or plans for Edwards to stay in the main event against a new opponent.