With the withdrawal of streaking prospect, Khamzat Chimaev due to lingering health issues amid a positive COVID-19 test result, the #3 ranked Leon Edwards is set to remain on the UFC Vegas 21 card — drawing recent UFC 258 victor, Belal Muhammad in a reworked main event on March 13.
Forced from two outings against Edwards this year already, Chimaev, who is expected to travel to Las Vegas to receive treatment and medicine for his lingering lung issues — was slated to match with the Birmingham native at UFC Fight Island 7 in January, but failed to gain medical clearance to compete or prepare for the fight.
Yet to feature since UFC Fight Night San Antonio in July of 2019 — Edwards notched his eighth consecutive triumph via a unanimous decision win over former lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos. Scheduled to headline a UFC Fight Night London card last March, the entire event was shelved amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, scrapping his tie with former champion, Tyron Woodley.
The victor of four on the trot, 32-year-old contender, Muhammad earned the #13 rank at 170-pounds via a one-sided unanimous judging win over Dhiego Lima last Saturday night at UFC 258 at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. News of the matchup was first penned by ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto.
On the cusp of a title shot at welterweight, Team Renegade BJJ & MMA staple, Edwards is undefeated in the UFC since December of 2015 — where he dropped a UFC Fight Night Orlando unanimous decision to current champion, Kamaru Usman.
Scoring eight victories since, the 29-year-old scored wins over Dominic Waters, Albert Tumenov, Vicente Luque, Bryan Barberena, Peter Sobotta, Donald Cerrone, and Gunnar Nelson, prior to his judging win over the above mentioned former 155-pound kingpin, dos Anjos.
Enjoying a certain purple-patch of form, Muhammad scores his first headlining bout under the UFC’s banner — hoping to notch his fifth straight success and knock back the streaking, Edwards.
A five-year, twelve-fight Octagon veteran, the Illinois native has amassed a 9-3 promotional résumé — dropping losses to common-foe, Luque, kickboxing talent, Geoff Neal, and Alan Jouban. As part of his current streak, Muhammad has bested Curtis Millender, Takashi Sato, Lyman Good, and the aforenoted, Lima.
Edwards was initially linked with a title-eliminator against former interim titleholder, Colby Covington, however, the brash Californian put and end to those talks — claiming he wouldn’t do “charity“ by accepting a short-notice bout against the #3 ranked contender.