The UFC learns the hard way that this coronavirus case is far from over.
The promotion made many changes to its first event at “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi due to COVID-19, and last night lost the fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns for the welterweight title after Burns had tested positive for the virus.
Now the two men most likely to receive the call from the UFC to replace Burns are reacting to the news on Twitter, and it appears they are both ready to intervene if the UFC gives them a call.
Here’s Jorge Masvidal, who was the first favorite to face Usman before contract negotiations killed the match:
Usman’s last opponent, Colby Covington, also threw his hat:
But don’t expect too much that a late replacement fight will meet in time to save Usman’s place on the first Fight Island map. According to a report by MMA Fighting, Usman did not end up boarding a chartered flight to Abu Dhabi after the announcement of the positive test of Burns. So if the UFC will “save” his fight, he could end up on one of the other three Fight Island maps in July, or pushed back to the August series of events in Las Vegas at APEX.
For the money that guys like Masvidal demand, we imagine that the fight should also be an à la carte event. If so, we may not see Usman again until UFC 252, which is currently slated for August 15 in Las Vegas. And since it’s so far away, there’s a good chance that Gilbert Burns will recover from the virus and be able to compete again.
So really, everything is possible right now. But the most likely overall result is that Alexander Volkanovski against Max Holloway is moved to the main event window at UFC 251 and that Kamaru Usman gets his next title defense postponed to a later date. We will keep you informed of any new development as they evolve.