After the withdrawal of Gilbert Burns due to positive COVID-19 test, the fight between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal is under negotiation as a new headliner for UFC 251. ESPN was first to report the news, citing multiple sources.
The ongoing talks “aren’t close to being finalized yet”. Nevertheless both parties reportedly believe that the deal can be made.
Masvidal, the “BMF” belt winner, was the first in line to challenger Usman for his welterweight belt. The bout was targeted to headline UFC International Fight Week in Las Vegas in July.
Things changed due to coronavirus pandemic, which caused numerous issues, including shut borders, ability to stage the events, and of course money. Further down the track, the promotion and the fighter couldn’t come to a financial agreement. “Gamebred” even asked to be released, if he “didn’t worth it”.
If the Usman vs Masvidal gets agreed on a short notice, there is still a number of obstacles to go through in order for the matchup to serve as a headliner of UFC 251. This includes travel from the US to the UAE, COVID-19 protocol, involving multiple tests and self isolation and more.
Meanwhile, UFC 251 still has a pair of title bouts featured on the top of its pay-per-view fight card. The rematch between featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and former titleholder Max Holloway is a highly anticipated encounter that is likely to headline the show if Usman vs. Masvidal falls through.
In addition, Petr Yan and Jose Aldo battle it out for a vacant bantamweight strap.