Home Sports The UFC 251 headliner has officially gone from friendly to ferocious

The UFC 251 headliner has officially gone from friendly to ferocious


Well, that escalated quickly.

UFC 251 is set for this Saturday on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, better known in the MMA community as “Fight Island.” The event was supposed to be headlined by a welterweight title matchup between reigning champ Kamaru Usman and rising challenger Gilbert Burns.

However, on Friday, it was revealed that Burns had tested positive for COVID-19 and would not be able to compete.

Enter the BMF – you can Google what that stands for.

The UFC announced Sunday that superstar welterweight Jorge Masvidal (35-13), on six days notice, would step in and fight Usman (16-1) for the 170-pound strap.

UFC President Dana White broke down how the fight came together on SportsCenter.

“Gilbert Burns had been on a tear and was consistently fighting and wanted to continue to fight. And he was the No. 1 contender. So Gilbert Burns made sense. Masvidal has become a massive star over the last year and a half and that’s the fight that the people want to see. So when Burns fell out, we got in a room and figured Masvidal out.”

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The tenor of Usman vs. Masvidal will be a lot different than that of Usman vs. Burns, considering Burns and Usman have trained together at Sanford MMA for years.

“Kamaru is not just a training partner – I consider him a great friend. But a fight is a fight.”

In fact, before the fight, Usman decided to move his entire training camp to Denver, Colorado, in order to avoid any conflict and create a change of scenery.

“I think eventually I would have changed things up anyway. We had a lot of welterweights at that gym. At some point, when you’re training with these guys on a daily basis and you’re the champion of the world, these guys know you in and out and if they get the better of you one day, they’re licking their chops thinking it’s their time. A little separation from that is good. It keeps that element of surprise, because these guys feel like they know you.”

Burns also commented on Usman leaving Sanford MMA.

“For me, it doesn’t change too much. It’s just a little weird to fight Kamaru. I really like the guy a lot. We’ve trained together since 2012 or 2013, so we’ve put a lot of time together.”

Clearly, there was a cordiality that existed between Usman and Burns – a cordiality that does not exist between Usman and Masvidal.

If you’re not familiar with Masvidal, he’s the one flying through the air in total destruction mode:

Ben Askren has got to be tired of seeing that clip.

Confirmation: He is.

Moving on.

Although Usman doesn’t hold the BMF title, he could be described as such. Just have a look at his last welterweight title defense.

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Prior to his scheduled matchup with Masvidal this weekend, Usman vs. Colby Covington at UFC 245 was as “grudgy” as grudge matches got, and Usman emerged with an incredibly hard-fought 5th-round TKO.

Covington actually offered to step in for Burns on short notice as well.

But the UFC ultimately chose to go with Masvidal, whose previous interactions with Usman have created tremendous buzz around Saturday’s fight.

Be forewarned, this altercation includes some inappropriate language.

Now, the two welterweight dynamos are set to share the cage and settle the score, and on Monday, Masvidal began his press tour.

And it’s safe to say that the animosity between the two is still alive and well.

“Have you not seen him speak? How he speaks about everybody, how he’s just negative and downplaying people? … This man’s been constantly throwing disses at me for awhile and I just don’t believe anything he says. I know the coward that he is.”

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Saturday’s fight between Usman and Masvidal will represent one of those dream matchups for MMA fans across the world, and as of Monday, Usman is favored to emerge victorious, according to FOX Bet.

We’ll see what Masvidal has to say about that.

Sorry, Askren.

Be irresistible couple