Gilbert Burns has reportedly been pulled from the main event of UFC 251 against welterweight champion Kamaru Usman after testing positive for COVID-19.
MMA Junkie's Mike Bohn reported Friday that multiple people had informed him of the decision. Burns reportedly tested positive in Las Vegas, where the UFC is having some fighters travel for testing before sending them to "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi.
Damon Martin and Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting reported Saturday that multiple sources had supported Bohn's report.
Abraham Kawa, the manager for Jorge Masvidal, told ESPN's Ariel Helwani that Masvidal is "absolutely willing" to fill the void on one week's notice.
There are still two championship fights on the UFC 251 card. Alexander Volkanovski will defend the featherweight belt against Max Holloway, while Jose Aldo and Petr Yan are set to face off for the vacant bantamweight title.
There has been no word on whether the promotion will attempt to replace Burns or just remove Usman from the proceedings.
Burns earned a shot at the title with a six-fight winning streak dating back to December 2018. He's already scored two victories in 2020, a knockout of Demian Maia in March and a triumph by unanimous decision over Tyron Woodley in May.
The 33-year-old Brazilian ran into Usman, his Sanford MMA teammate, at the gym last month, saying the encounter "was a bit weird."
"Right after the UFC Las Vegas card that my brother fought at, I ran into him in the gym when I came back," Burns told Cruz. "He stayed here that week and then went to Colorado to finish his camp. We spoke, and it was all good. He said, 'Let's fight, leave it all in the Octagon, and then we'll have a beer together.' It will be very professional."
Usman is one of the sport's most dominant figures, with a 16-1 career record that has seen him go unbeaten since May 2013. He took the welterweight title with a win over Woodley in March 2019 and successfully defended it for the first time in December by knocking out Colby Covington.
If Burns has been removed, the UFC 251 card still remains strong, which gives UFC President Dana White the option to scrap the fight altogether if he doesn't want to replace Burns on short notice.
Masvidal last fought in November when he knocked out Nate Diaz to win the symbolic "BMF" title. Covington also appeared to volunteer for a rematch with Usman.