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Gilbert Burns out of main event of UFC 251 due to Covid-19

The main event of the card of the year, a welterweight title bout between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns, will not proceed as scheduled

Gilbert Burns of Brazil reacts after his victory over Tyron Woodley in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 30, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The main event of UFC 251 main event between Gilbert Burns and champion Kamaru Usman is off. Scheduled to take place on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, Burns has tested positive for Covid-19. Neither he nor Usman was on the charter flight from Las Vegas to the United Arab Emirates that left last night.

Burns confirm as much by his Twitter account.

Ariel Helwani of ESPN confirmed the original reports of MMA Junkie, and said two fighters are already campaigning to replace Burns.

Both Jorge Masvidal and former title challenger Colby Covington took to Twitter late Friday night to campaign for the fight, but there is no word on what UFC will do with Usman now.

“My offer stands. Ball is in the UFC’s court,” Covington told ESPN. “I’m here to save the day against Marty or Judas [Usman or Masvidal]. Feed me either one. I’m ready. Knew to be ready for this seven months ago.”

Burns brother Herbert, also a UFC fighter at Featherweight with an 11-2 career record, was reported to have tested positive as well, but he has denied this on Twitter.

The news leaves the biggest fight card of the year without a main event, and with questions about what happens next. It’s still a loaded show with Alexander Volkanovski taking on Max Holloway for the featherweight title, and a bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo.

Will Dana White and the UFC attempt to find a replacement for the 16-1 Kamaru Usman? Can they even get someone healthy and eligible to fight to Abu Dhabi in a week? We’ll likely know soon enough.