Gilbert Burns is “not feeling well” and has been removed from the UFC 251 main event on July 11, multiple outlets reported Saturday.
Later Saturday, ESPN reported that while Burns will not fight welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC’s Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, there are “active negotiations” to book Usman and Jorge Masvidal as the new main event.
According to ESPN, negotiations for Usman-Masvidal “aren’t close to being finalized yet, but they are ongoing and both sides believe there is a path to making this fight happen.” Masvidal passed a coronavirus antibody test on Saturday, the report added, though he would require further testing to be approved for the fight.
UFC and Masvidal were unable to reach an agreement in negotiations in recent months, which led to Burns’ placement in the title fight. Masvidal was critical of UFC after the fact, but it appears some fences have been mended.
Burns, 33, appeared to confirm his removal, writing on Twitter, “… not feeling well but I’m going to win this battle! Stay safe out there! Much love.”
According to ESPN, neither Burns nor Usman were on the UFC charter flight that was scheduled to depart from Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi late Friday night.
Burns (19-3) has won his last six fights, including a unanimous decision against former welterweight champ Tyron Woodley at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas on May 30.
Masvidal (35-13) has won three straight fights, most recently against Nate Diaz at UFC 244 in November.
Whether or not Usman-Masvidal happens, UFC 251 has two other title fights on the docket, with Alexander Volkanovski facing Max Holloway for the featherweight title and Petr Yan battling Jose Aldo for the bantamweight belt.
–Field Level Media