Daniel Cormier believes Gilbert Burns withdrawing from his UFC 251 fight with Kamaru Usman opened the door for Jorge Masvidal getting what he wants from the UFC.
Burns was expected to fight Usman for the UFC welterweight title at UFC 251 this Saturday on Fight Island. Unfortunately, he was pulled from the contest when he tested positive for COVID-19.
When Burns withdrew from the fight, the UFC called on Masvidal to step in and replace him against Usman. Before that could happen, however, the promotion had to reach a new agreement with Masvidal, who had recently been airing his grievances about his pay.
According to Cormier, Burns’ withdrawal from UFC 251 was likely the extra bit of leverage Masvidal needed to get what he wanted from the promotion.
“Whenever Burns fell out and Masvidal said he would absolutely fight [Usman], I was certain they would get a deal done,” Cormier told Ariel Helwani on Monday. “Here was the thing that allowed Jorge to get what he was asking for. It was going to take something out of the ordinary for him to get what he wanted, because they had come to that point—both sides—where they were like ‘we’re not willing to do business.’
“Here comes this extenuating circumstance, a big circumstances that allows [Masvidal] to come back to the table and say ‘hey, are you a little more willing now to give me what I want?'” Cormier continued. “The UFC’s like ‘you know what, man? This is Fight Island, this a big card, we need to blow this up. We need Usman here, and this is the guy [to fight him].'”
Cormier continued, explaining that he trusted Masvidal’s willingness to take this short-notice fight from the moment the opportunity came up.
“I never questioned whether or not Jorge Masvidal wanted to fight,” Cormier said. “He wants to fight, cause he’s a fighter. Nobody gets as many fights as he has, fights in the backyard, and not be a true fighter. So I knew the moment they could come to terms financially, the fight would happen, and there was a great chance the fight could be met under these circumstances.”
During his own interview with ESPN, Masvidal effectively confirmed this theory from Cormier.
“Me and my team know what I deserve,” Masvidal told ESPN this week, opening up on his new UFC deal. “So when I got undercut and lowballed, alright, cool, no problem. We’ll see what happens. I told my manager and several people […] ‘watch, at the last moment, they’re going to call me back and some craziness is going to happen.’ I told several people that are very, very close to me, and bam, that’s exactly what happened.
What do you think of this assessment from Daniel Cormier? Did Jorge Masvidal luck out when Gilbert Burns was forced off the UFC 251 bill?