The UFC hopes the third time is the charm for a welterweight title fight between champ Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns, who are now expected to headline UFC 258 after two cancelled bookings.
Multiple people with knowledge of the rescheduled fight confirmed to MMA Fighting that verbal agreements are in place with bout contracts expected to be signed shortly. The title fight initially was reported by Combate. UFC 258 takes place Feb. 13 at a location to be determined.
Usman was first scheduled to face Burns at UFC 251 in July; the matchup was made after a planned bout between the welterweight champ and rival Jorge Masvidal was scuttled due to a financial disagreement between Masvidal and the UFC. Burns lost the fight after a positive COVID-19 test, and the promotion came to an agreement with Masvidal, who wound up losing to the champ in a lopsided decision.
Burns was promised the first crack at Usman after Masvidal’s loss, and eventually the promotion targeted him for a title shot at UFC 256 on Dec. 12. But the fight was never officially confirmed, and it was scuttled for a later date.
Usman and Burns used to be training partners at the now-defunct Blackzilians MMA and Sanford MMA. After Burns entered the title picture, Usman switched training camps, moving to Colorado to work with renowned coach Trevor Wittman.
Usman, the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 21, has won 16 straight fights and hasn’t lost a bout since 2013. Burns is on a six-fight winning streak, having found his groove after an uneven stint at lightweight.