Leon Edwards regained his place in the welterweight rankings. The only price he had to pay seemed to be fighting a battle with rising UFC superstar Khuzat Shemayev. Dana White announced the news of Edwards’ vs Shemayev booked a match during a recent CBS Sports interview. The Jim Roma Show.
“So, we just made a deal yesterday, for Leon Edwards against Shemayev,” White revealed, when asked when fans expect to see Burrs in the cage again. “They will fight. It’s going to be a great fight. And yes, he can stop calling everyone on Twitter now. He has an opponent.”
As for when and where the match will take place, White was not sure of the details, telling Rome, “I don’t know yet, I’ll find out when I come home.” But, ESPN has reported since The match will take place on December 19, as the main title of the planned Fight Night event in Las Vegas.
The UFC chief went on to spend time building Chimaev for fans who might not have seen him compete yet, pointing to Octagon’s impressive series of finishes as well as the rapid switching he made between each match.
“This guy had 30,000 followers in his first fight, and now he has nearly a million followers,” White said excitedly. “This kid is one battle away from being a massive superstar. If he can defeat Leon Edwards, he will be a massive superstar in the UFC.”
For Edwards, this match announcement marked the end of several months of apparently stalled negotiations between the biggest welterweight competitor and the world’s largest MMA promotion. After a match against Tyron Woodley collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Edwards reportedly rejected short-lived fights against Usman and Covington. He also turned down a match with Geoff Neal and an earlier offer to fight Chimife. Edwards has made clear his lack of interest in fighting opponents down the division recently, indicating that he only wants a top 4 fighter.
“For me to reach the world title, which is my goal and my dream, is to beat one of these top four [guys], Edwards explained again in early October. “I have to fight someone in the top four to get my title.”
However, the UFC made the ‘Rocky’ negotiating position more apparent earlier this week when they ousted Edwards from their ranking list due to inactivity. If he is hoping to use his position in the title game, that opportunity is clearly not on the table anymore.
A few days later, here we go. Edwards returned to the world rankings and Chimaive booked him. And the rest of the crew has a first-hand lesson about trying to play chicken with the UFC machine.