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After weeks of expressing his dissatisfaction with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and its negotiating tactics, Jorge Masvidal is coming to save the day.
According to a report from ESPN, Masvidal has come to terms with the promotion to face Kamaru Usman for the welterweight championship in the UFC 251 main event on July 11. Usman was previously slated to defend his crown against Gilbert Burns on “Fight Island” before Burns tested positive for COVID-19 late last week.
There is still one more hurdle to clear, as both Usman and Masvidal must travel to Las Vegas and isolate until they receive the results of their respective coronavirus tests. If the results are negative, both welterweights will then fly to Abu Dhabi. When Burns fell off the card, Usman had already undergone Part 1 of the testing process but did not board a flight to Abu Dhabi as it appeared the originally planned headliner would be scrapped altogether.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Usman vs. Masvidal was targeted for International Fight Week in Las Vegas. Interest in the bout intensified when the two fighters engaged in a confrontation on media row during Super Bowl week earlier this year.
However, Masvidal’s level of interest changed in recent weeks, as he claimed the UFC was offering him less for a title fight with Usman than for his “BMF” title win over Nate Diaz last November. “If I’m not worth it let me go,” Masvidal wrote on Twitter.
Masvidal was perhaps the promotion’s biggest breakthrough star of 2019, earning finishes of Darren Till, Ben Askren and Diaz to put himself atop the list of welterweight contenders.
Usman, meanwhile, is on a 15-bout professional winning streak that includes 11 victories in the UFC. He defended the welterweight crown for the first time with a fifth-round TKO of Colby Covington in the UFC 245 headliner on Dec. 14.
UFC 251 takes place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs on pay-per-view via ESPN+ and features two other championship fights, as Alexander Volkanovski meets Max Holloway in a featherweight title rematch, and Petr Yan and Jose Aldo vie for the vacant bantamweight strap.