Okamoto: It’s a bummer. No other way to say it. Masvidal and Usman had heat. It’s the title fight we thought we were getting all year. I love Masvidal’s story. He has been hiding in plain sight his entire career, and then he caught fire in 2019. I want to see the end of that story. The Darren Till knockout, Ben Askren highlight, BMF title … does it all lead to a UFC championship? Feels like the story isn’t finished. Holdouts are a part of professional sports. Masvidal is not the first pro athlete to hold out for a better contract, nor will he be the last. I hope we see him fight for a title, but I don’t know what his future holds. The UFC 251 Live just showed it was willing to move on from him once. And after this fight between Usman and Burns, guys such as Colby Covington and Leon Edwards will be waiting to take the next shot. I’m apprehensive about Masvidal’s future, to be honest. I hope they’re able to work it out.
Wagenheim: I’d be upset about the absence of Masvidal if the UFC were shoving him aside and feeding us another bogus championship fight. (We’re already getting one of those with Yan vs. two-losses-in-a-row, 0-1-at-bantamweight Aldo.) But Burns is a legit 170-pound challenger, as Edwards would have been if he had accepted the title shot. So the show goes on. As for Masvidal, his is a cautionary tale, one that has been told before and will continue to be reprised until fighters learn to act in their self-interest. I’m not even talking about them organizing. We’ve seen those efforts run out of steam again and again, so maybe a fighter association is simply not to be. But why do athletes let their managers negotiate long-term contracts without every nuance covered in writing?