Mixed martial arts: Jorge Masvidal steps in on short notice to fight Kamaru Usman at UFC 251

Jorge Masvidal in action
Jorge Masvidal in action Photo credit: Getty

The UFC has pulled off a stunning late-replacement fight booking, confirming Kamaru Usman will defend his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal this weekend. 

The five-round championship bout will serve as the main event for UFC 251, which will be held on 'Fight Island' in Abu Dhabi - the first of four events in three weeks at the venue.

The announcement comes just 48 hours after original challenger - Brazilian Gilbert Burns - withdrew from the card, after contracting coronavirus. 

American Masvidal is one of the hottest stars on the UFC roster, after a stellar 2019, when he won three fights by stoppage, including the Knockout of the Year against Ben Askren.

Recently, the 35-year-old has portested at being undervalued and underpaid by the UFC, and had even threatened to seek a release from his contract.

But the lure of championship gold - and a likely pay bump for stepping up on six days notice - have convinced him to take on the Nigerian champion.

Usman is riding a 15-fight win streak since his sole loss in 2013 and is coming off a stoppage win over brash American Colby Covington in December.

Usman won the title last March, dominating long-time titleholder Tyron Woodley over five uncompetitive rounds.  

Australian Alex Volkanovski, who trains at Auckland's City Kickboxing gym, will defend his featherweight title on the same card. Eugene Bareman, who also trains Dan Hooker and Israel Adesanya, will be in Volkanovski's corner for the fight against Max Hollaway. 

Join us for live updates of UFC 251 from 2pm Sunday.