Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns is almost officially on the books for a second time. After their planned UFC 251 bout on FIght Island in Abu Dhabi was canceled after Burns tested positive for COVID-19, the UFC is now targeting the welterweight title fight for UFC 256 on Dec. 12, UFC president Dana White confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.
Burns (19-3) blitzed his way to a title shot with a six-fight winning streak. His two most recent wins came during the global pandemic and were the biggest of his career, knocking out Demian Maia and dominating former champion Tyron Woodley for a wide decision victory. The run landed him the opportunity to challenge Usman when initial negotiations between the UFC and Jorge Masvidal fell apart. After Burns’ positive COVID test, Masvidal stepped in on six days’ notice, only to be dominated by Usman in the main event on July 11.
Usman (17-1) has not lost since the second fight of his pro career. In March 2019, he dominated Woodley to capture the championship. After a knockout victory over biter rival Colby Covington, Usman ended up in the tangled situation with Burns and Masvidal.
Burns and Usman trained together at Sanford MMA, setting the stage for a rare showdown between teammates. Usman left the camp to train with Trevor Wittman ahead of UFC 251 and figures to remain with his new head coach ahead of the rescheduled clash with Burns.
Also planned for UFC 256 is a bout between two-division champion Amanda Nunes and Megan Anderson for Nunes’ women’s featherweight championship.
While not yet confirmed, the pay-per-view event will likely be held at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.