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Dublin: -1°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Jorge Masvidal steps in to take UFC title shot on six days' notice

He’ll aim to dethrone welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.

UFC welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal.
UFC welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal.
Image: USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images

THE UFC CONFIRMED overnight that Jorge Masvidal (35-13) will challenge Kamaru Usman (16-1) in the new main event at UFC 251.

Masvidal has been drafted in to take on the welterweight champion in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night as a result of the withdrawal of Gilbert Burns, who tested positive for Covid-19.

Having passed a test after travelling to Las Vegas from his home in Miami, Masvidal will depart for the United Arab Emirates today.

Prior to the scheduling of the Burns bout, Masvidal was expected to be the next challenger to Usman’s title until contract negotiations broke down with the UFC.

However, in his 19th outing under the organisation’s umbrella, the 35-year-old is finally set to compete for a bona fide championship.

Masvidal, who made his mixed martial arts debut in 2003, is a veteran of 48 professional fights. His popularity has risen considerably in recent times, aided by a streak of wins over Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz (doctor stoppage).

The clash of Usman and Masvidal is one of three title fights set to take place at Saturday night’s behind-closed-doors event.

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Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski defends his belt in a rematch with Max Holloway, while the vacant bantamweight strap will be at stake when Petr Yan faces Jose Aldo.

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Paul Dollery

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