Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: Jorge Masvidal has got some stones for stepping into the UFC 251 main event on Fight Island on July 11. The 35-year-old “Gamebred” BMF belt-holder jumped in with less than a week to go after Gilbert Burns tested positive for Covid-19 , and Masvidal now finds himself with a legitimate opportunity: a chance at the welterweight title against Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman. Problem is, this is most likely where Masvidal’s dream at finally holding a belt will turn into a night terror on Yas Island just off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Usman (16-1) is heavily favoured to win this fight, he is as ferocious as he is technically sound. He previously defended the welterweight belt against Colby Covington (15-2) at UFC 245 in December via fifth-round TKO in a fight-of-the-night performance. Anyone watching saw a serious war of attrition, of two men relentlessly pummelling each other until one finally, after close to 25 minutes, emerged victorious. Masvidal (35-13) is the third-ranked welterweight fighter according to the UFC’s website, however the 35-year-old is going to find himself with his hands full against Usman, who is 33 and the UFC’s sixth-ranked pound-for-pound fighter. Usman appears to be in the prime of his career, evident from a training video posted to his Instagram where he is seen beating the stuffing out of sparring buddy Justin Gaethje . Masvidal picking up this bout on six days’ notice – ESPN reporting the two travelled from Las Vegas via a chartered flight – is not how this tilt was supposed to go down. Burns was the replacement for Masvidal after contract talks between the UFC and the Miami native fell through, and if you are heading into what could be the final tent pole fight of your career, you don’t want any easily explainable excuses for a loss. UFC: Diaz supports Usman vs Masvidal; Burns snaps back After Burns’ positive test, Masvidal had the UFC “in a pickle” as he said on ESPN , and it seems he got close to what he was initially asking for as well as a multi-fight contract. But this all hinges on his ability to back up his talk with action, in that he has been one of the most outspoken fighters this year when it comes to compensation, outside Jon Jones. Jones is arguably the greatest UFC fighter of all-time, and he has earned the right to complain. Masvidal has never held a belt outside the BMF title, a marketing gimmick at best. So, to put it bluntly, if you’re going to talk like Jones outside the ring, you better perform like him inside of it. Masvidal found himself vaulted to the upper echelons of UFC stardom last year after a long career as a journeyman mixed martial artist who got his start in street fights close to two decades ago. In March of last year, he kicked off 2019 with a spectacular knockout of Darren Till, and then followed that up in July with an even more impressive knockout of Ben Askren. He finished off the year by beating Nate Diaz for the BMF title at UFC 244 in November, on a doctor’s stoppage, and had the honour of getting strapped with the belt by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Not a bad calendar year for a guy who has largely remained unknown outside the sport’s hardcore fan base. Conor McGregor sat out all of 2019, and in the void of superstars comes opportunities for fighters like Masvidal to seize the day. However 2020 has been a different year for Masvidal. This will be his first fight after a lot of talk, and if Usman makes short work of him, it will reaffirm some things within the realm of UFC water cooler talk. The story of Masvidal’s career comes down to UFC 251, and makes for a compelling headline bout to kick off a furious few weeks of fights in the United Arab Emirates. If he wins, Masvidal will claim a belt after close to fifty fights amid a storybook twilight ride to the top and we can cue the Hollywood screenplay. View this post on Instagram It’s time like these that @recuerdomezcalusa makes everything worth it. Come take this journey with me #theresurrection A post shared by Jorge Masvidal (@gamebredfighter) on Jul 6, 2020 at 1:28pm PDT If he loses, though, it may signal the end of a long, hard-nosed and valiant career, and show that possibly Masvidal’s 2019 was a flash in the pan from a fighter grasping at one last chance at the top. The only saving grace may be the Cuban-American doesn’t have much time to stew on the gravity of this match, and instead will find himself face-to-face with destiny in a few short days on the other side of the planet, against a nightmare of an opponent.