For a brief moment over the weekend, UFC 251 lost one of its three title fights when Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19. Jorge Masvidal then decided to step in on six days’ notice and became Kamaru Usman’s new challenger to headline Saturday’s first “Fight Island” event.
While the signing itself was on short-notice, Masvidal’s preparations apparently aren’t. According to teammate Dustin Poirier, “Gamebred” kept himself in full training camp mode, even with the uncertainty of fighting.
“It’s a short-notice (fight) because he didn’t have the contract signed,” Poirier explained recently on The Fight with Teddy Atlas podcast. “But let me tell you what, this guy was there my whole training camp. He was my main sparring partner, and we probably put in five weeks of sparring together. He flew in wrestlers, the best wrestlers in the world. I think they put him up, the guys were there just for Jorge. Just for Masvidal to use.
“The guy never stopped training,” he continued. “Even when the fight fell through and they gave it to Burns, it was at the end of my training camp. Jorge was still in the gym every day like he had a fight. I don’t know if he knew something that we didn’t, but the guy was in training camp the whole time and never stopped.
“I think he’s gonna surprise a lot of people with the kind of shape he’s in. His timing is gonna be good.”
Seeing first-hand how the “BMF” champ has been preparing himself, Poirier assures that Masvidal is battle-ready.
“He’s in fight shape. I know that much. This isn’t a guy coming off the couch,” he said. “This is a guy who was preparing to fight Usman, and the fight fell through, and he kept training.”
Masvidal, however, will have to fight on without long-time mentor Mike Brown, who tested positive for COVID-19.