Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal has been announced as the official UFC 251 main event.
On Friday, the promotion learned that Gilbert Burns — who was originally scheduled to face Usman in the main event — had tested positive for COVID-19. Burns was not permitted to fly to Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, to compete this weekend. Usman, too, was requested to not fly to Abu Dhabi, and the promotion had lost the featured bout of the ESPN+ PPV main event.
However, just three days later, the UFC has now managed to re-book the champion against the #3 ranked welterweight contender, Masvidal, a fighter who many consider to be the rightful next challenger for the welterweight title.
— UFC (@ufc) July 6, 2020
Ariel Helwani of ESPN first reported the news that Masvidal would be stepping into the UFC Welterweight Championship bout on short notice. Although negotiations were said to be complete, there were (and still are) many obstacles that could prevent the highly-anticipated bout from taking place this Saturday, July 11. The most significant hurdle is the same one that tripped Burns just one week out from his UFC title shot: COVID-19 testing before boarding a plane in Las Vegas.
After it was reported that Masvidal has tested negative for COVID-19, the UFC was quick to make an official announcement regarding the new UFC Welterweight Championship bout.
Three massives obstacles out of the way (negotiations, signing, 1st Covid test).
* Fly to Abu Dhabi
* Take 2nd COVID test at hotel/quarantine/pass
* Take 3rd COIVID test/quarantine/pass
* Make weight Friday
* Take 4th COVID test/quarantine/pass after weigh-ins
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) July 6, 2020
With the announcement, the UFC Featherweight Championship bout between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway will return to the co-main event slot. Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo, a fight for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship, will now be the third-last bout of the night.
The event is scheduled for Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, a location that the UFC has branded as “Fight Island” for upcoming events July.
UFC 251 fight card and start time
Saturday, July 11 – UFC Fight Island, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Main Card – 10:00pm (ET) on ESPN+ PPV
- Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 🏆
- Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 🏆
- Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo 🏆
- Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas
- Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant
Prelims – 8:00pm (ET) on ESPN+ PPV
- Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka
- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikhov
- Makwan Amirkhani vs. Danny Henry
- Leonardo Santos vs. Roman Bogatov
Early Prelims – 6:30pm (ET) on ESPN+ PPV
- Raulian Paiva vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
- Karol Rosa vs. Vanessa Melo
- Martin Day vs. Davey Grant
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.