On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Ariel Helwani made a surprising revelation: Dana White’s “top choice” for the UFC 300 main event is a welterweight championship matchup between Khamzat Chimaev and defending champion Leon Edwards.
Despite the initial excitement, the likelihood of this matchup materializing seems uncertain. Helwani explored various options currently under consideration for the speculated April 13 headliner.
He said: “If the UFC had their way… If they could snap their fingers and make the biggest fight in their mind happen — and the fight that they’ve been working on happen — and have their say as to what is the main event for UFC 300, I think that they would make Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev.”
However, hurdles, particularly related to Chimaev’s ability to compete in the United States may obstruct this top-choice scenario.
Helwani continued: “I believe when Dana White is talking bout the hurdles and the issues, I believe that’s about securing Khamzat’s ability to fight in the United States.”
“This has been rumored for quite some time that he has issues coming over to the States. The last time he fought here was in Jacksonville almost two years ago. I believe that’s been part of the holdup. If they can’t secure that matchup, I believe they would look at Khamzat vs. [Dricus Du Plessis], but I think the top choice is Leon vs. Khamzat.”
Helwani also delved into alternative scenarios. He suggested that if the Edwards-Chimaev matchup proves unattainable, the UFC might pivot to Khamzat Chimaev vs. Dricus Du Plessis.
Helwani continued: “I think that the top choice is Leon vs. Khamzat. This could all fizzle out and I think we’ll find out in the next few days. But I believe that is the top choice at the moment. I also believe those other 3 fights are at play as well. Leon/Belal, Izzy/DDP and Khamzat/DDP as well. And so, let’s see what happens.”
Shortly after the news circulated, Chimaev distanced himself from competing at UFC 300. In an interview with MMA Uncensored, he cited his commitment to observing Ramadan from March 10 to April 9.
Chimaev stated: “I will fight everybody. Leon [Edwards], [Dricus] du Plessis, anyone, but not [during] Ramadan. I think Ramadan [is during] UFC 300. Maybe somebody in Saudi Arabia. I want to fight there. Not fighting in Ramadan anymore.”
Muslims are obligated to keep a severe fast during Ramadan, going without food or drink throughout the day. It will take place from March 10 to April 9. Given that UFC 300 is only four days away from Chimaev’s month-long fast, it makes sense that Chimaev would want to sit this one out.
June 22 is the planned date for the UFC’s debut in Riyadh, allowing Chimaev plenty of time to heal and be ready to step back inside the Octagon.
With Chimaev seemingly out of contention, the UFC faces limited options for the UFC 300 main event. Among the discussed alternatives, Israel Adesanya vs. Dricus Du Plessis emerges as a plausible choice. However, Du Plessis’s recent taxing encounter with Sean Strickland at UFC 297 raises concerns about his readiness for UFC 300.
This narrows down the options to Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad. While it is a logical matchup considering Edwards’ welterweight championship and Muhammad’s No. 2 contender status, the match lacks the anticipated flair for such a milestone main event.
Regardless of the final matchup, UFC 300 seems destined to leave some fans disappointed.