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The UFC 251 "Fight Island" promotion is finally looking up to the hype with Jorge Masvidal set to fight Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title.
Usman (16-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) did not board a charter flight to Yas Island, Abu Dhabi after Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19. It appeared as though he would not compete, but the UFC worked out an agreement with Masvidal (35-13 MMA, 12-6 UFC), and will step up to take on Usman.
This news comes as a report from ESPN. The UFC has yet to make an official announcement.
Usman, 33, and Masvidal, 35, must follow Fight Island's COVID-19 protocols in order to compete, along with other UFC 251 fighters. They will have to quarantine in Las Vegas and pass COVID-19 tests both before and after traveling to Abu Dhabi. Masvidal arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday, while Usman was expected to arrive later.
The UFC’s next charter flight out of the United States is scheduled for Monday from Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi. Usman and Masvidal are expected to board that flight if they pass pre-flight testing and undergo a 24-hour quarantine.
If all goes according to plan, this bout represents one of the most anticipated 170 pound matches in modern UFC history.
This will be Masvidal's first fight after a breakout 2019 that included knockout wins over Darren Till and Ben Askren, and was capped by defeating Nate Diaz for the inaugural "BMF" championship. In recent weeks, Masvidal had been caught up in contract disputes regarding fair pay with UFC President Dana White. It is understood that Masvidal would have been the original opponent to Usman in the absence of negotiation issues. The terms of his new deal are not yet known.
No. 1 Usman is unbeaten in the UFC through 11 fights, which trails only Georges St-Pierre for the longest winning streak in divisional history. “The Nigerian Nightmare” won the belt from Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 in March 2019 and successfully defended the belt against Colby Covington at UFC 245 in December.
UFC 251, which once again has three title fights scheduled, has a main card that airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass.
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