UFC 251 will mark the promotion’s first major event on Fight Island, the facility in Abu Dhabi that has been reserved for fights to go on unabated during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, on Friday night, reports began to circulate that indicate the event’s main event will not go on as planned due to one of its participants testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
John Morgan of MMA Junkie reported that Kamaru Usman, the current UFC welterweight champion, and Gilbert Burns, who was set to challenge him for the belt, did not board the flight to take them to Fight Island.
Potential medical issue has been identified in the Kamaru Usman- Gilbert Burns matchup, and neither fighter is boarding the plane to Abu Dhabi tonight for #UFC251. Current plan per sources is to reschedule fight for a later date.
— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) July 4, 2020
Soon after, MMA Junkie reported that the issue stemmed from the Burns camp. Usman’s challenger, per MMA Junkie and MMA Fighting, tested positive for the virus, as did the tests for his brother/cornerman and his coach. MMA Junkie reported that Burns trained for the flight in Florida before heading to Las Vegas, where he was expected to board a flight to Abu Dhabi.
The No. 1 priority, is, obviously, that Burns and those in his camp who got the virus are able to shake this as soon as possible, so here’s to hoping that’s the case sooner rather than later. As for the fight with Usman, that is reportedly going to be rescheduled for a later date, and there is no word on whether Usman will fight someone else at the event, which is scheduled to occur on July 12. Should the UFC not find someone to fill in for Burns, there are still two other title fights on the upcoming card: Alexander Volkanovski will put his featherweight title on the line against Max Holloway in a rematch of a fight that took place at UFC 245, while Petr Yan and Jose Aldo will square off for the vacant bantamweight championship.