The “BMF” champion will face welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (16-1) at UFC 251 next weekend at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, multiple sources told MMA Fighting. Masvidal, who has to pass a COVID-19 test first, will step in as a late-notice replacement for Gilbert Burns, who was announced as having tested positive for the virus late Friday evening.
For now, this booking appears to have put a pause on the public conflict between Masvidal and the UFC over his compensation. “Gamebred” previously stated that he was offered a title shot, but was unhappy with the proposed payout as it would be less than what he was paid for his main event clash with Nate Diaz at UFC 244 in November. He and other prominent UFC fighters, including Jon Jones and Conor McGregor, have made comments on multiple occasions questioning fighter pay in recent months.
Masvidal (35-13) rose to the top of the contender rankings with a stunning 2019 campaign in which he defeated Diaz and recorded a pair of highlight-reel knockouts against Darren Till and Ben Askren. The Askren fight ended in just five seconds after Masvidal knocked out the former Bellator and ONE champion with a flying knee, the fastest KO in UFC history.