Despite losing title challenger Gilbert Burns due to a positive COVID-19 test over the weekend, the UFC is looking at one of their original hopeful challengers to welterweight champion Kamaru Usman to fill the pay-per-view void.
According to published reports, Jorge Masvidal has taken his place and barring negative COVID tests from either he or Usman, the fight is expected to headline this Saturday's UFC 251. ESPN's Ariel Helwani said both men have agreed to the fight.
Helwani reported that both men will be on their way to Las Vegas shortly where they will need to take another test, pass, fly to Abu Dhabi, take another test, pass, and then another test on Friday, similar to what other fighters on these Fight Island shows are having to do.
The UFC has yet to make an official announcement about any of this, even Burns being out of the fight, until both men pass their tests and the fight can officially be signed.
He and Usman were initially targeted over several months and had a notable verbal altercation while doing interviews on Radio Row during Super Bowl week. After a failure to come to a deal on the fight, Masvidal became increasingly vocal both about pay and of the promotion, choosing to sit out despite Dana White saying he had signed a new contract. Burns, coming off a recent win over former champion Tyron Woodley, became an easy, and less expensive, option.
Masvidal's last fight was his win over Nate Diaz in November 2019 for the "BMF" title while Usman cruised to a win over Colby Covington last December.