Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President, Dana White, recently announced that Kamaru Usman’s second Welterweight title defense would be against Gilbert Burns at UFC 251 on July 11, 2020, on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.
But despite being the No. 1-ranked fighter in the division, “Durinho” wasn’t the promotion’s first choice, as Jorge Masvidal was in line to face “The Nigerian Nightmare” before contract disputes put an end to that. In fact, Burns wasn’t even the promotion's second option — Leon Edwards recently confirmed that UFC matchmakers reached out to him about facing Usman.
Unfortunately, “Rocky” had to turn it down since England is still on very strict protocols with its COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“For those asking, yes I got offered the shot before Gilbert. We couldn’t make it work this time,” Edwards wrote on Twitter following a report from Ariel Helwani. “It has been tough for me on this side of the world, as it has been for a lot of people, but fuck it, you cant stop what is inevitable.”
This isn’t the first time that coronavirus has interrupted Edwards’ fight plans. Indeed, he was set to face Tyron Woodley in April before worldwide lockdowns and restrictions forced UFC into a hiatus. And even though UFC’s sole intent of locking down “Fight Island” was to have a place for its international fighters to compete, the promotion doesn’t have a say in what other countries are doing as far as travel restrictions are concerned.
For now, all Edwards can do is sit back to see how Usman vs. Burns plays out next month and hope that he will face the winner later this year. That’s assuming UFC and Masvidal haven't made nice by then, of course.