Is There An Issue With The UFC 251 Main Event?
Heading into “Fight Island”, the UFC appeared to be ready for anything. The promotion was conducting multiple COVID-19 tests even before fighters joined the festivities on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. As a result of utilizing their own rules, the UFC will need a new main event for UFC 251.
MMA Junkie was the first to report during July 4 weekend that Gilbert Burns is out of his fight against UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. During pre-flight testing, Burns tested positive for the virus, along with coaches Greg Jones and Vagner Rocha. Burns was expected to fly from Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi but has since stopped the entire boarding process. According to MMA Fighting, several coaches and fighters out of Sanford MMA tested positive for the coronavirus.
Burns would react to the news on social media, stating: “Devastating news, not feeling well but I’m going to win this battle! Stay safe out there! Much love.”
💔 devastating news, not feeling well but I’m going to win this battle! Stay safe out there! Much love 🙏🏾
— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) July 4, 2020
The charter flight for UFC fighters from Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi departed on Friday, but Burns and Usman were not on the plane. This was a safety precaution if Usman was not able to compete.
Burns (19-3) was riding a six-fight win streak heading into UFC 251. He fought on May 30, beating former UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision.
Since the announcement, both Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal have offered their services to compete at UFC 251 in a last-minute fight. Covington hasn’t competed since losing to Usman for the title at UFC 245 in December. Masvidal is currently in the middle of a standoff with the UFC regarding pay. He has not fought since UFC 244 in November when he beat Nate Diaz for the BMF Title.
UFC 251 on July 11 will look for a new main event and a potential new challenger for Usman. The co-main event is Alexander Volkanovski v. Max Holloway in a rematch for the UFC Featherweight Title. Another title fight on the card will be Petr Yan v. Jose Aldo for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Title.