Wednesday, December 7, 2022

UFC 251: Jorge Masvidal To Face Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman For Welterweight Title

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Jorge Masvidal will face Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight title on 11 July, pending negative coronavirus test results from both fighters.

Usman was originally set to defend his championship against Gilbert Burns at UFC 251, but the Brazilian challenger was forced out of the first ‘Fight Island’ main event last week after testing positive for Covid-19.
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Usman’s long-time rival Colby Covington – against whom the champion successfully defended his title in December – quickly took to Twitter after the news of Burns’ positive test result, seemingly offering to step in.

Masvidal (35-13) also posted what seemed to be a cryptic suggestion that he would fight Usman, and UFC president Dana White confirmed that ‘Gamebred’ would be the one to fill in for Burns on less than a week’s notice.

White announced the news by posting a promo for Usman vs Masvidal on his social media channels. The new main event is contingent upon both fighters testing negative for coronavirus ahead of the bout. They have each passed tests in Las Vegas, but will be tested again numerous times before the fight on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

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Masvidal went 3-0 in 2019, knocking out Liverpool’s Darren Till in London before setting the record for the fastest KO in UFC history against Ben Askren (five seconds) and defeating Nate Diaz for the novel ‘Baddest Motherf****r’ title via doctor stoppage. His contest against Usman marks his first proper UFC title shot and comes seven years after his debut in the promotion.

Original challenger Burns had fought twice in three months this year to usurp Masvidal – who was locked in a contract dispute with UFC president White – as the No1 contender at 170lbs. Burns defeated compatriot Demian Maia via first-round TKO in March, then dominated former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley for a unanimous decision win in May.

UFC 251 is set to feature two other championship bouts: Former featherweight titleholder Max Holloway will take on the man who dethroned him, Alexander Volkanovski, in a rematch, while Petr Yan and Jose Aldo are due to fight for the vacant men’s bantamweight belt.
Photo Credit: Getty

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