It was a whirlwind Sunday for No. 3 Welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal (35-13) as he preps to take the main event spotlight for this coming Saturday night’s UFC 251 (main card 10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT on ESPN+ pay-per-view in the United States.)
How he got here:
Earlier in the day on Sunday, the UFC officially drafted the fight contract for Masvidal to square off against champion Kamaru Usman (16-1) for the UFC Welterweight title in UFC 251.
Both fighters signed the deal.
Masvidal replaces No. 1 contender Gilbert Burns (19-1) in the fight after he and his cornermen all tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19.)
The booking of Masvidal is a stark contrast to his attitude toward the UFC from last month, when he and UFC President Dana White had a public falling-out over contract negotiations just days after his relationship with former Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones (26-1, one no-contest) also soured.
On Sunday night, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported that the new Welterweight title fight at UFC 251 was a go, after both fighters tested negative for the coronavirus.
Masvidal and Usman traveled to Abu Dhabi on Monday.
An opponent and new contract in the same day:
Later on Sunday, Masvidal was interviewed by Helwani.
During the interview, the challenger in the main event championship contest explained to Helwani that he and the UFC came to terms on a new contract and Masvidal will remain in the UFC as a competitor for the foreseeable future.
Masvidal said the following about his new contract:
“I’m happy more than anything because I get to break this guy’s face and get paid for it.”
A relationship repaired:
The rapport between Masvidal and the UFC has also improved with these new negotiations, with Masvidal saying:
“We’re not there yet, but we’re heading in that direction. Moving forward after this fight, they’re going to treat me accordingly. Or I’ll just step in last minute, six days to go and get paid then, I guess. That’s the new scheme I have to do, whatever. But I’m going to get paid every time out.”
One hurdle left for the fight:
Now that the fight is agreed to, the last significant hurdle to clear before the fight becomes an official title bout is the Friday weigh-in.
If either fighter exceeds the 170-lb. maximum for the Welterweight division, the fight cannot proceed as a title match, but could proceed as a catchweight affair.