Jorge Masvidal steps in for Gilbert Burns to face Kamaru Usman at UFC 251
And we're back to where we started.
It was initially expected that Jorge Masvidal would challenge Kamaru Usman for the UFC Welterweight Championship this summer. Aside from the two being the top 170-pound fighters in the UFC, there was a highly marketable rivalry between them that only grew during their run-in during Super Bowl weekend in Miami back in January.
However, Masvidal and the UFC were at odds when it came to money and the MMA promotion decided to move in a different direction with the surging Gilbert Burns as Usman's opponent at UFC 251 at "Fight Island" on July 11. Unfortunately, Burns was forced out of the fight when he tested positive for COVID-19 just before the fighters were scheduled to depart for Abu Dhabi on Friday. The UFC wanted to keep Usman on the card and there was one person who was willing to take the fight.
Enter Jorge Masvidal... again.
According to ESPN, the two sides agreed to terms on Sunday and, if everything goes right, will headline UFC 251. But there are still several hurdles to clear over the next few days.
Masvidal arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday morning and will take his COVID-19 test and quarantine while awaiting the results. Usman, who was en route to Las Vegas, will do the same once he arrives. If both tests come back clean, they will head to Abu Dhabi as early as Monday.
It was the long way to get to a fight that has been bubbling since the top of 2020.
After Usman defeated Colby Covington in December and Masvidal topped Nate Diaz for the inaugural "BMF" title in November, the two fighters appeared to be heading toward a showdown with one another. Both were nursing injuries when they ran into each other at Super Bowl media row and a heated shouting match ensued.
Things became complicated once the coronavirus pandemic hit the MMA world and Masvidal was unhappy with the financial terms for a potential clash with Usman.
It has yet to be reported what terms were agreed upon by Masvidal heading into this short notice fight.