01 Jan Jorge Masvidal will face Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 pending COVID-19 testing
Jorge Masvidal is getting his title shot.
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.
ESPN was first to report the potential booking.
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.
This will be Usman’s second title defense. He successfully defended his belt against rival Colby Covington at UFC 245 in December, finishing “Chaos” with strikes with less than a minute remaining in their five-round fight.
It is not yet known what plans the UFC has for Burns, who has been dominant since making the move from lightweight to welterweight. In his most recent outing, he earned a lopsided unanimous decision win over former UFC champion Tyron Woodley.
With Usman’s title defense back on schedule, the featherweight championship rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway returns to the co-main event slot.