UFC welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal passed his first of many COVID-19 tests on Sunday night, clearing the way for his flight to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. That’s where “Gamebred” will step in for Gilbert Burns — who popped for coronavirus — to battle Kamaru Usman for the 170-pound strap this Sat. night (July 11, 2020) in the five-round UFC 251 pay-per-view (PPV) main event.
It was a major victory for Masvidal, 35, who was originally passed over in favor of Burns after the promotion failed to meet his financial demands. Unfortunately for the accountants at UFC, there wasn’t much choice if there was any intention of saving the UFC 251 headliner, though it was also possible to have the co-main event of Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway slide into the top spot if negotiations once again fell apart at the eleventh hour.
“Obviously Masvidal has become a massive star over the last year-and-a-half, and that’s the fight that people want to see,” UFC President Dana White told SportsCenter. “So when Burns fell out, we got in a room and figured Masvidal out.”
Masvidal (35-13) is coming off three straight wins — and three straight finishes — at 170 pounds. He was last seen slicing and dicing Nate Diaz for the promotion’s “BMF” title at UFC 244 last November. As for Usman (16-1), he remains perfect inside the Octagon, turning away fellow welterweight bruiser Colby Covington in the UFC 245 headliner back in December.
UFC 251 will also feature the bantamweight showdown between Jose Aldo and Petr Yan, who collide for the vacant 135-pound strap. Elsewhere on the card, former strawweight champions Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas run it back for a spot in the 115-pound title chase while Paige VanZant returns against Amanda Ribas.
See the finalized UFC 251 fight card and line up here.