UFC’s first event on Fight Island has taken a massive blow as Gilbert Burns has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and is out of his welterweight title fight against Kamaru Usman, according to MMA Junkie. Sources told the outlet that Burns, as well as his brother and cornerman, fellow UFC fighter Herbert Burns, and his coach Greg Jones tested positive for the virus.
According to MMA Junkie, Burns was tested when he arrived in Las Vegas — fighters are being tested for the coronavirus in Las Vegas before flying overseas to Fight Island. Burns’ test came back COVID-19 positive, and he did not board the charter flight to Abu Dhabi. MMA Junkie reported that Usman did not board the plane as well.
UFC 251 is scheduled to take place on July 11 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The promotion has not officially announced the cancellation of the bout and it is unclear if the UFC plans to reschedule the welterweight title fight for a later date. Burns was awarded the title fight against Usman after defeating former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
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Top UFC Welterweights Insert Their Names as Possible Replacements for Burns
After the news of Burns’ positive coronavirus test, two massive welterweight stars inserted their names as potential opponents. On Friday night, No. 2 ranked Colby Covington called out Usman on Twitter. He wrote: “You know who they’re gonna call Marty and it ain’t the Ghostbusters Junior!”
You know who they’re gonna call Marty and it ain’t the Ghostbusters Junior! 🇺🇸🦅🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/9RgHd4Cczi
— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) July 4, 2020
Covington and Usman fought in December 2019, and Usman won the exciting match by fifth-round TKO. On Saturday, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani spoke with Covington. The fighter said that he offer stands, and that the “ball is in the UFC’s court.”
He told Helwani, “I’m here to save the day against Marty or Judas. Feed me either one. I’m ready. Knew to be ready for this 7 months ago.”
The UFC’s “Baddest Motherf***er,” Jorge Masvidal, also seemingly inserted his name into the conversation as a potential replacement for July 11. Masvidal took to Twitter and posted the definition of his nickname, “Gamebred.” The definition reads: “Gamebred is an animal that has been bred to be game.”
Helwani spoke with Masvidal’s manager, Abraham Kawa, and he confirmed that the fighter is “absolutely willing” to fight Usman on Fight Island on a week’s notice.
— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) July 4, 2020
Both men would make exciting replacements for Burns. However, it is unclear if the UFC is considering any of the fighters at this time.
Burns’ Teammate Tested Positive for COVID-19 on July 2
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Dear family and friends, I got tested for covid-19 on Monday and the result came back today and I am positive. So my family and I will be quarantining ourselves for the next 14 days. I had a slight fever, congestion, body ache and fatigue on the first two days. Besides that I am blessed that my whole family is doing well. We are really in this together and we will get over this.
Burn’s Sanford MMA training partner, Aung La Nsang, announced on July 2 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He wrote on Instagram, “Dear family and friends, I got tested for covid-19 on Monday and the result came back today and I am positive. So my family and I will be quarantining ourselves for the next 14 days. I had a slight fever, congestion, body ache and fatigue on the first two days. Besides that I am blessed that my whole family is doing well. We are really in this together and we will get over this.”
UFC 251 Still Has 2 Title Fights, Feather & Bantamweight
UFC 251 was one of the most stacked cards of the year with three title fights. Although Burns and Usman’s title fight is reportedly derailed, the bantamweight and featherweight titles are still scheduled still to be on the line. Featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski is set to defend his title for the first time and it will be against the man who he took the belt from, Max Holloway.
The vacant bantamweight title is up for grabs as well. Petr Yan will take on Jose Aldo at UFC 251, and the winner will earn the belt that former champion Henry Cejudo left behind.
July 11’s UFC 251 will be the first of many events on Fight Island and the UFC will have a quick turn around. On July 15, UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Ige will take place, and it will be headlined by surging featherweights, Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige.