According to a report from MMA Junkie, Gilbert Burns has tested positive for Coronavirus and has been forced to withdraw from his title fight opposite Kamaru Usman that was slated for UFC 251. It seems as though this is going to be something to be expected for UFC events moving forward as it was only back at UFC 249 that Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza was also forced to withdraw after contracting Coronavirus. It’ll be interesting to see just how common this will become moving forward, especially as the UFC prepares for a blockbuster fortnight with four events scheduled for UFC Fight Island.
This must be more than a little disappointing to Gilbert Burns, not just because he’ll now have to overcome Coronavirus, but more so because he’s remained incredibly active this year in fighting his way to the title shot. He started out the year on a four-fight win streak and improved it in his home-nation of Brazil against fellow elite grappler, Demian Maia. It only took him two months to step back into the octagon against a former UFC Champion in Tyron Woodley, where he earned a judge’s decision after winning every single round against the powerful wrestler, even dropping him along the way.
At the time of writing, there is no scheduled replacement for Burns and seeing as Usman is the incumbent champion, he may not want to take on a completely new challenger with such short notice. That hasn’t stopped both Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal from throwing their hats into the ring to challenge the champion, although it feels hard to justify Covington receiving a rematch against Usman when he hasn’t fought since. Masvidal is at least on a winning streak, even if he hasn’t fought since earning the BMF belt against Nate Diaz at UFC 244.