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While Jorge Masvidal got the thumbs up to travel to Abu Dhabi for UFC 251 at the beginning of the week, the same can’t be said for one of his most trusted coaches.
Longtime American Top Team coach Mike Brown tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to make the trip to Yas Island to be in Masvidal’s corner for his welterweight title fight against Kamaru Usman on Saturday. Masvidal accepted the fight on six days’ notice and passed his COVID-19 test in Las Vegas before taking a private jet to Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Although Brown appears to be in good condition, it was nonetheless a blow for Masvidal heading into his first UFC title bout.
“It sucked emotionally just because I want him there,” Masvidal said on SportsCenter. “When I get that belt, I needed this individual to be there, because he’s a huge part of my career. He’s been there for such a long time. We’ve been friends for a long time, as well. It was just like, it took the air from all of us. Every single one of me and my cornermen were devastated by it. But thank God [that] Mike has no symptoms, nothing.”
The bad news was equally difficult for Brown, who was looking forward to being present as “Gamebred” received his championship opportunity.
“Just heartbroken I’m not going to see Jorge win the world championship in person,” Brown said in a statement provided to ESPN. “Nobody deserves it more than this guy. Nobody has paid more dues. Jorge is also one of the most thoughtful athletes I’ve ever met. He makes everyone feel they are with him and a huge part of this journey.
“The truth is this guy has been honing his skills for more than 20 years and developed one of the highest fight IQs the sport has ever seen. As far as being COVID positive, I feel good. The only pain I feel is in my heart.”
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