UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman was supposed to take on Gilbert Burns in the main event of UFC 251 on July 11 in Abu Dhabi, but now the 33-year-old Nigerian-born American appears to be on his way to an even bigger and better superfight showdown against “BMF” champ Jorge Masvidal.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported late Saturday night, “The Usman-Masvidal talks are ongoing and moving in a positive direction. While there are still multiple hurdles left, feeling confident about the direction of the talks and barring any last minute issues it appears inevitable this fight gets done.”
Both Masvidal and Usman teased the fight via their social media accounts.
By Sunday afternoon, Helwani reported the fight was essentially made pending medical tests and travel to Abu Dhabi being sorted out.
Helwani posted, “Negotiations for Usman vs. Masvidal are done, per sources. All sides agreed to terms. Usman is en route to LV; Masvidal landed earlier. Once at the hotel, they’ll have to take a COVID test and then quarantine while awaiting results. If negative, they’ll fly to AD likely tomorrow.”
He also posted, “Negotiations were obviously a huge hurdle but now that is clear. Now it depends on that COVID test, which is obviously a massive hurdle, too. Total crap shoot. If (hopefully not) they don’t pass the COVID test the fight can’t and won’t happen.”
So it appears UFC 251 indeed has a new main event on the way, and the massive fight was made less than seven days before it was scheduled to happen.
Usman-Masvidal Was UFC’s Original Plan
Usman facing Masvidal next was the company’s original plan for its welterweight champ.
In fact, Usman-Burns was only the fight UFC president Dana White came up with after failed negotiations with Masvidal left the company’s welterweight titleholder without an opponent for UFC 251.
Thanks to Burns’ solid resume, of course, the fight made sense on paper and couldn’t really be complained about.
But Burns withdrew from the card on Friday due to an illness, leaving many to believe Usman wouldn’t fight at all at UFC 251.
But now it looks like Usman will be in the main event after all.
However, he would now be competing in the fight everyone wanted to see at 170 pounds in the first place, the same one that White promised was on its way back in January without actually having both fighters on board.
Usman vs. Masvidal would be a tremendous addition to what’s shaping up to be one of the best UFC PPV cards in recent history.
You can watch Helwani talk more about the proposed superfight below.
Usman-Masvidal Would Make UFC 251 Can’t-Miss PPV
Usman-Masvidal would make UFC 251 a can’t-miss PPV.
The card was certainly salvageable without Usman’s next title defense headlining it, but since UFC 251 is scheduled to be the first event on UFC’s Fight Island, it should probably be as memorable as possible.
That’s probably why the original line-up featured three title fights, something the company has only done five times before.
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