The need for Masvidal as a last-minute replacement came when Burns fell ill, reportedly with coronavirus. But signing is just phase one of the deal. Now Masvidal and Usman have to be tested for coronavirus. If they pass, they will be cleared to fly to Abu Dhabi.
Masvidal had previously been negotiating with the UFC to fight Usman, but terms couldn’t be reached. That’s when Burns was given a shot. Masvidal and Usman have a prior history of animosity, getting into a shouting match at the last Super Bowl’s media row.
EARLIER: UFC 251 is reportedly cutting Gilbert Burns from its UFC 251, where he was scheduled to face welterweight champion Kamaru Usman on July 11 in a title fight.
The match would have headlined the first card at UFC’s Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It was scheduled live on ESPN+ PPV.
💔 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
UFC has not yet confirmed the removal from the fight or what will happen with title holder Usman. The UFC main executives may be on a charter flight that departed Las Vegas late on Friday for Abu Dhabi. Usman and Burns were not on the flight.
In the interim, several MMA challengers have offered to replace Burns in the match.
The UFC 251 card also has a featherweight title rematch between Alex Volkanovski and Max Holloway, as well as Petr Yan matching Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight championship.
Burns, with a 19-3 record, was in line for the title shot after impressive victories earlier this year.