Well, it’s come from more or less leftfield. A welterweight title tilt between division kingpin, Kamaru ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman, and BMF championship winner, Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal looks set to take curtain closing honours at UFC 251 from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE on July 11th.
Usman was set to attempt the second defence of the 170-pound championship opposite number-one contender, Gilbert ‘Durinho’ Burns – until the Brazilian submitted a positive COVID-19 test, forcing his removal from the card.
Negotiations on all sides have been successfully trashed out, per ESPN reporter, Ariel Helwani – with the completion and negative return of COVID-19 tests remaining the final hurdle preventing the headlining tie between the two in Abu Dhabi. If both Usman, who is currently on his way back to Las Vegas, and Masvidal who touched down in ‘Sin City’ earlier today, provide negative test results, the two are likely to jet to the United Arab Emirates tomorrow ahead of Saturday’s card.
Taking his camp to Trevor Wittman in Denver for this tie – Usman will look to add arch-rival Masvidal, to a recent run which includes a knockout of bitter-enemy, Colby Covington back in December, following a championship challenge win opposite, Tyron Woodley in March last year.
In an incredible eighteen-month period – American Top Team mainstay, Masvidal, finished one-time welterweight title hopeful, Darren Till at UFC Fight Night London, before setting an unrivalled Octagon record.
Against the then-undefeated, Ben Askren at UFC 238 – the Floridian launched a flying-knee inside five seconds, stopping the elite level wrestler in his tracks.
In November, rounding off a splendid year, the fan-favourite stopped Stockton native, Nate Diaz via third-frame doctor’s stoppage to claim the symbolic BMF championship in the main event of UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden.