UFC: Dana White lines-up Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev bout for Abu Dhabi

UFC president aiming to rebook postponed match-up for the UAE next month

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 19: Khamzat Chimaev of Chechnya celebrates after his knockout victory over Gerald Meerschaert in their middleweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 19, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

UFC president Dana White is working towards rebooking the postponed match-up between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev for Abu Dhabi next month.

The highly anticipated clash was initially scheduled for Las Vegas next week, however Edwards had to withdraw from that slot having contracted Covid-19.

White told Canadian network TSN late on Thursday that plans are now for the welterweights to headline an event on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on January 20, as part of a three-show International Fight Week.

The run, still to be confirmed by the UFC or local organisers, is expected to conclude with Conor McGregor’s much-awaited comeback against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257. The capital has already hosted two Fight Island series, the most recent of which concluding in October.

Speaking to TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, White said Fight Island was targeted for the UFC’s opening three events of 2021 – January 16-23 – with the hope to that fans could attend - should they test negative for Covid-19.

In line with public health guidelines at the time, the first two residencies took place without spectators and inside a safe-zone “bubble”. The newly built Etihad Arena on Yas Island has been mooted as a potential host venue.

Regarding fan attendance, White said: “We’re still looking at that stuff. In a perfect world, if I could pull this thing off, we go to Fight Island again and it’s like International Fight Week.

"We’re doing all cool things that week for people to fly in, hang out, watch fights, Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday.”

White also said he "could be" looking at booking Justin Gaethje against Michael Chandler for UFC 257. Gaethje competed on Fight Island in October, at UFC 254, losing his lightweight unification bout to undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.


Gallery: Khabib beats Gaethje at UFC 254


Meanwhile, the fight between Edwards and Chimaev pits against one another two of the top-rated welterweights in the UFC.

The division’s third-ranked challenger, Edwards has not fought in July last year, while Chimaev was the breakout star of the original Fight Island.

The Chechen, who is based in Sweden, made his debut in July and then was in action again 10 days later – creating history for the shortest turnaround between bouts.

In September, he moved to 3-0 in the UFC by defeating Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds in Las Vegas.