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Masvidal and Covington react to Burns’ removal from UFC 251

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Following Gilbert Burns’ positive COVID-19 test, fighters are lining up to step in and face welterweight champ Kamaru Usman.

*** Update: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal UFC 251 new main event is official! ***

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is learning the hard way that this Coronavirus thing isn’t over by a long shot.

The promotion has made numerous changes to its debut event at “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, because of COVID-19, and just last night lost the headline fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns for the welterweight title after Burns tested positive for the virus.

Now, the two men most likely to get the call from UFC to replace Burns are reacting to the news on Twitter, and it sounds like they’re both ready to step in should the UFC give them a call.

Here’s Jorge Masvidal, who was the original frontrunner to face Usman before contract negotiations killed the match-up:

Usman’s last opponent, Colby Covington, also threw his hat in:

But, don’t get your hopes too high that a late replacement fight will come together in time to save Usman’s spot on the debut “Fight Island” card. According to a report from MMA Fighting, Usman didn’t end up boarding a chartered flight to Abu Dhabi after the news of Burns’ positive test came through. So if UFC is going to “save” his fight, it might end up on one of the three other “Fight Island” cards in July, or pushed back to the August series of events back in Las Vegas at the APEX.

For the money guys like Masvidal are demanding, we imagine the fight would also have to be a pay-per-view (PPV) event. If that’s the case, we might not see Usman back until UFC 252, currently set for Aug. 15, 2020, in Las Vegas. And with that being so far away, there’s a good chance Burns will have recovered from the virus and be able to compete again.

So really, anything is possible right now. But the most likely general outcome is Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway getting moved to the main event slot at UFC 251 and Kamaru Usman getting his next title defense rescheduled to a future date. We’ll keep you informed of any more developments as they happen.