The UFC has managed to pull off one of the great late-replacement bookings in company history as Jorge Masvidal will fight Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title in the new UFC 251 main event.
After Gilbert Burns was removed from Saturday’s card because of a positive COVID-19 test, Usman (16-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) did not board a charter flight to Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, where the event takes place. It appeared as though he would not compete, but the UFC reached terms with Masvidal (35-13 MMA, 12-6 UFC), and the fight has been agreed to.
MMA Junkie confirmed the news with two people close to the situation following an initial report from ESPN. The people requested anonymity because the UFC has yet to make an official announcement.
Usman, 33, and Masvidal, 35, must quarantine in Las Vegas and pass COVID-19 tests both before and after traveling to Abu Dhabi, which are the same protocols as all athletes on the UFC’s four “Fight Island” events in July. 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. If Usman and Masvidal can pass pre-fight testing and get through the 24-hour quarantine, they are expected to be on that flight.