Despite recently suffering a points defeat to top-ranked welterweight Kamaru Usman, Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal’s rise to the main event status in UFC has been undeniable. From unsanctioned fights filmed for YouTube, through to main eventing combat sports’ top promotion, Masvidal’s story is remarkable.
In this article, we will examine the emergence of this Miami-born star, including the road-blocks on the way and the milestone moments that helped transform him from being an underdog scrapping for recognition to the very top of the card.
The making of the man
Born in Miami, Florida, Masvidal carries with him a strong feeling of Cuban identity, inherited from his father who was born on the island. He expresses that heritage through his ring-walk, which features music from the film Scarface, and his dress sense, which clearly draws inspiration from the suits worn by Tony Montana in the same film.
Masvidal first made waves as a street fighter and became known on YouTube for his battles against a fighter known only as Ray, who was the supposed successor to aging brawler Kimbo Slice. Masvidal also wrestled at high school and appears to have relished the art of combat throughout his life.
He got his first break in organized combat sport as a kick-boxer, competing in 2003’s Fast and Fearless event as a hungry 18-year-old. He built early momentum in the sport with a high-profile victory over Joe Lauzon showing his devastating power with a second-round TKO. But Masvidal’s destiny was in the world of mixed martial arts.
The suit. Tony Montana. Jorge Masvidal. pic.twitter.com/UIWyc0dn0w
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) September 19, 2019
Setbacks and steps forward
Next up for Masvidal was Bellator and the organization’s 2009 lightweight tournament. By now, the maturing fighter fancied his chances of succeeding in the competition, but his run was ended in the semi-finals by Toby Imada. Down but not out, the defeat would prove a valuable lesson.
Masvidal would put his name back on the map with a victory via a rear-naked choke over Eric Reynolds, although his release from Bellator would soon follow as the ambitious brawler turned his attentions to the prizes up for grabs with Strikeforce.
A unanimous decision victory over Billy Evangelista saw Masvidal’s star rise even higher, with a win against Elite XC Lightweight Champion K.J Noons quickly following. But once again the Miami-native’s momentum was halted by defeat, this time at the hands of Gilbert Melendez.
Masvidal would end his career with Strikeforce with victory over Justin Wilcox, before cancellations and the eventual dissolution of the organization saw the fighter once again became a free agent. And this time the UFC would come calling.
An Ultimate Fighter
Back-to-back wins would see Masvidal’s UFC career off the perfect start, while wins over James Krause, Daron Cruickshank, and Pat Healy helped him recover from defeat to Rustam Khabilov.
Masvidal would win seven of his next ten bouts, including notable victories over Ross Pearson and Donald Cerrone, but successive defeats to Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson again saw progress slowed. It would take a special effort to get him back on track.
And that performance came on British soil against home-town hero Darren Till. Masvidal had too much explosive power for his opponent and recorded a KO victory by punches in the third round.
But the bigger headlines were still ahead and ‘Gamebred’ shook the world when he knocked out Ben Askren with a flying knee inside just five seconds – a new UFC record. A win by doctor stoppage against the legendary Nate Diaz would follow and today if you visit Space Casino you can expect to find Masvidal priced at short odds ahead of fights. His pure ambition and character will always make him stand out, and he won’t stop despite the few knock-backs that he has had.
Although Masvidal was unable to complete another fine chapter with victory over Usman last month, this Miami fighter will certainly surface once more in UFC’s main event picture. Keep watching this fighter as he will surely bring some interesting developments.