Pending the results of COVID-19 tests, Saturday’s UFC 251 pay-per-view card will still feature three title fights at the top of the event.
On Friday, Gilbert Burns was forced from the event after he failed a pre-travel COVID-19 test. That left UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman without an opponent.
Almost as soon as the news of Burns positive test came to light, the UFC moved to book Jorge Masvidal opposite Usman. Ironically, Burns got the chance to face Usman in the first place because Masvidal allegedly priced himself out of the matchup by asking the UFC for too much money.
Masvidal had a fantastic run in 2019. Masvidal, who made his MMA debut in 2003, came back from more than a year of inactivity and back-to-back losses in 2017 to go 3-0 in 2019. All three of Masvidal’s wins in 2019 came by way of knockout.
He opened the year in March with a knockout of Darren Till in the second round of their matchup. He followed that with the fastest knockout in UFC history when he stopped Ben Askren with a flying knee five seconds into their July 6 scrap. In November, Masvidal captured the BMF title with a third-round TKO stoppage win over Nate Diaz.
Usman won the UFC welterweight title in March 2019 with a unanimous decision win over Tyron Woodley. He defended that title in December with a TKO win over Colby Covington.
Early odds for the potential Usman vs. Masvidal matchup favor the defending champion. Usman is a -260 favorite over Masvidal, who opens as a +200 underdog.
ESPN reported the news of the updated main event.
In the co-headliner of UFC 251, UFC featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski faces Max Holloway. The other title fight pits Petr Yan against Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight strap.
UFC 251 takes place at Fight Island on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The pay-per-view card streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.