UFC Fighter Gilbert Burns Tests Positive for COVID-19July 14, 2020
The pandemic that was caused by the COVID-19 virus that originated in China has dealt the sports world a major blow. All sports around the planet were shut down for several months because of safety concerns. None of the North American team sports have started up yet. However, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has been up and running again since May. The world’s largest mixed martial arts company has had a very good track record for safety during the pandemic. However, it was just announced that Brazilian welterweight fighter Gilbert Burns has officially tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gilbert Burns was going to be taking on the welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, in the main event of UFC 251. This is going to be the first event to be held at the UFC’s Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The company will be holding several shows on Fight Island during the month of July. They are doing this because it is impossible to get international fighters into the United States because of travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic. Burns tweeted Saturday morning that he was not feeling well. However, he made no mention that he had contracted the COVID-19 virus. Subsequent news reports using sources inside the UFC confirmed that Burns had indeed tested positive.
The removal of Gilbert Burns from the main event has left the UFC scrambling to find a replacement. Inside sources are reporting that negotiations are well underway to have Jorge Masvidal face Kamaru Usman in the main event. This would certainly be a huge fight. Masvidal has been very vocal in recent weeks about how he has not been happy with the amount of money he is getting paid. However, getting Masvidal to agree to a contract is not the only hurdle the UFC will need to get past if this fight is going to happen. There is also the fact that the fight is only one week away.
The amount of travel time to get to Abu Dhabi from the United States is significant. There is also the fact that all people traveling from the U.S. need to go into a 48-hour quarantine upon arriving in Abu Dhabi. There might simply be too many issues to be resolved in such a short period of time. If the UFC is not able to find a replacement to fight Usman, there will still be a pair of title fights on the card.