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Another major step has been taken toward finalizing the new UFC 251 headliner.
Jorge Masvidal, who is stepping in for Gilbert Burns to face Kamaru Usman on less than a week’s notice, has passed his COVID-19 test in Las Vegas. According to a report from ESPN, Masvidal will take a private plane booked by his management to Yas Island on Monday. Usman, meanwhile, will fly on a jet charted by the UFC to the venue.
The Las Vegas-based promotion officially announced Usman vs. Masvidal late Sunday night.
Both Usman and Masvidal will be tested for COVID-19 again upon their arrival in Abu Dhabi, where they will isolate for 48 hours. If everyone tests negative, the fight will move forward as planned. Masvidal agreed to step in at UFC 251 after Burns tested positive for COVID-19 late last week.
During an appearance on SportsCenter, UFC president Dana White briefly addressed how the organization was able to come to terms with Masvidal after failing to book “Gamebred” against the champion previously.
“If you look at the 20-year history, this kind of stuff happens. When you get into negotiations for fights, these things happen,” White said. “Gilbert Burns has been on a tear, was consistently fighting and wanted to continue to fight. And he was the No. 1 contender, so Gilbert Burns made sense.
“Obviously Masvidal has become a massive star over the last year and a half. That’s the fight that the people want to see. When Burns fell out, we got a room and figured Masvidal out.”
UFC 251 takes place at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and is topped by Usman vs. Masvidal. The pay-per-view draw also includes a featherweight title clash pitting Alexander Volkanovski against Max Holloway and a bantamweight championship tilt between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo.
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