Leon Edwards has his man.
UFC welterweight Belal Muhammad is stepping in on short notice to fill the void left by Khamzat Chimaev to take on Edwards in a five-round main event bout at UFC Fight Night on 13 March.
The news was first reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Muhammad is only just coming a decision victory over Dhiego Lima last weekend and is on a four-fight win streak. In all, Muhammad has a 9-3 record in the UFC and his three losses come against tough opponents in Alan Jouban, Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal.
No guts no glory MAIN EVENT MUHAMMAD pic.twitter.com/gqZbHiOzTN
— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) February 18, 2021
Chimaev was forced to withdraw from the bout due to suffering the long term effects of COVID-19. The Sweden-based Chechnyan first tested positive for the coronavirus in December, cancelling their January bout for a second time after Edwards first contracted COVID-19 and had to withdraw from what was initially scheduled to be a contest booked last December.
As there is an undetermined time for Chimaev to make a full recovery, the UFC is moving on from that matchup and Muhammad is the man who is stepping up to the plate.
Edwards is ranked third in the UFC welterweight rankings and is riding high on an eight-fight win streak.
The Birmingham all-rounder hasn’t competed in the cage for almost two years after his fight with Tyron Woodley last March was cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the world.
“Rocky” sat all of 2020 out and is eager to get back some time in the Octagon to cement his status as the man who should fight champion Kamaru Usman next.
Respect for Belal for stepping up when no one else would. March 13 I show I am the best in the world. #StrapSeason
— Leon 'Rocky' Edwards (@Leon_edwardsmma) February 18, 2021
“Respect for Belal for stepping up when no one else would,” Edwards wrote on social media. “March 13 I show I am the best in the world.”
Edwards has campaigned for fights against the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington and Nate Diaz since the Chimaev news broke.