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170Ib champion Usman was scheduled to defend his crown against surging contender Gilbert Burns next Saturday at UFC 251. The initial bout fell apart after Burns tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. The cancellation of the fight led to the featherweight title bout between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway to be the rumored new main event for the card.
Last night, news emerged that a welterweight title bout may be back on. Jorge Masvidal leaked photos on his social media where he was shown to be getting tested himself for COVID-19.
It was later revealed that the UFC was in negotiations with the BMF champion to fill in and fight Usman on just a week’s notice. The fight between Masvidal and Usman was set to be booked earlier this year, but negotiations between Masvidal and the origination broke down, and Burns got the shot.
The career revival of Jorge Masvidal has seen him become one of the sports most attractive names in just over a year. In 2019 he returned after almost a two-year layoff and knocked out Darren Till in a huge upset. He would then sensationally knock out the former undefeated Bellator and One Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren in just five seconds. Masvidal’s claim to fame was his last outing winning the BMF title against Nate Diaz at UFC 244 in November.
There is no doubt that Usman-Masvidal is one of the most highly anticipated fights to be made in 2020. Usman is the king of the division and has already knocked off some major players at 170Ibs. Masvidal has steamrolled his past three opponents with relative ease and it’s the fight that makes the most sense.
Nonetheless, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome to make the fight on such short notice. Not only is the current pandemic going to cause a problem with regular testing over the next week, but Masvidal has no preparation, and will be looking to cut down to the 170Ib weight limit during the time he will be getting tested for COVID-19. Usman himself has been preparing for Burns next weekend.
Should the UFC book the fight for an event later in the summer to maximize each fighter’s capabilities? Or should they just throw down in a week’s time?