Gilbert Burns has been knocked out of the UFC 251 main event against welterweight champion Kamaru Usman after testing positive for COVID-19.
According to multiple sources speaking to MMA Fighting on Friday, the Brazilian tested positive for the coronavirus as part of the pre-fight protocols in place before anybody travels to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi where the event will be held on July 11. Burns was flanked by his brother Herbert Burns and his wrestling coach Greg Jones, who were expected to be his cornermen for the fight. The news was first reported by MMA Junkie.
Earlier this week, Burns’ teammate — ONE Championship light heavyweight and middleweight champion Aung La N Sang — revealed that he had also tested positive for COVID-19. An additional source told MMA Fighting that at least one other coach out of the Sanford MMA facility also tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks.
All of the fighters who are competing on the UFC’s “Fight Island” shows in July are taking chartered flights to several different hubs around the world before eventually landing in Abu Dhabi. Burns and his team were expected to fly out of Las Vegas but obviously with the test results coming back positive on Friday, none of them were on board.
With Burns out that leaves Usman in a precarious position without an opponent and the fight just one week away. It’s unknown at this time if the UFC will even attempt to secure a replacement opponent given the stringent testing requirements for COVID-19 before anyone can travel to Abu Dhabi.
UFC 251 does feature two additional title fights with featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski facing off with Max Holloway and a new bantamweight champion being crowned as Petr Yan takes on Jose Aldo.
After the news broke, Burns took to Twitter with his reaction to being pulled from the UFC 251 main event.
devastating news, not feeling well but I’m going to win this battle! Stay safe out there! Much love— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) July 4, 2020