Gilbert Burns removed from UFC 251 main event, according to source

Gilbert Burns will not compete in the UFC 251 main event, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Burns had faced welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in a title fight on July 11 who was the holder of the first undercard on the UFC’s Isle of Struggle in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Burns, 33, seemed to refer to his retirement from the fight in a tweet early Saturday, writing “devastating news” and saying “it doesn’t feel good, but I’m going to win this battle.”

MMA Junkie first reported that Burns would not compete at UFC 251. UFC has yet to confirm its withdrawal from the fight.

The UFC charter flight from Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi was due to depart Friday night, sources said, but neither Usman nor Burns were on the flight. He was also not seen at the airport, sources said.

Both Jorge Masvidal and former title challenger Colby Covington took to Twitter on Friday night to campaign for the fight, but it is unknown what the UFC will do with Usman now.

Masvidal manager Abraham Kawa said his wrestler is “absolutely willing” to face this fight a week in advance. Sources said there have been no conversations with the Covington team.

Burns’ team, sources said, is hopeful that the fight will be rescheduled.

The UFC 251 card includes a featherweight title rematch between Alex Volkanovski and Max Holloway and Petr Yan against Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight championship. The fight between Volkanovski and Holloway is now expected to be the main event.

“This was the true main event,” Volkanovski told ESPN. “A lot of people thought this was the main event, so it’s in its rightful place.”

Burns (19-3) has won his last six fights. Since March, he has had impressive victories over former title contender Demian Maia and former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. Those wins put him on a line for a title shot once the UFC was unable to come to terms with original No. 1 contender Masvidal.