Jorge Masvidal has shot to popularity over the last couple of years. 2019 was his definitive comeback year after a string of fights that didn't go the way he had intended.
'Gamebred' headlines the main event of UFC 261 this Saturday against welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, in a fight that could be his last shot at the title for a long time.
But Jorge Masvidal wasn't always flying in on private jets and taking home six-figure paydays. Growing up in Miami to immigrant Cuban parents, 'Gamebred' was getting into fights and finding himself in trouble from a very young age.
In an interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN, Masvidal talks about how he knew from the age of 10 that he was a fighter and could make money off of it.
Masvidal went on to describe how he got into street fighting as a way of just making some extra money through bets. Being the best fighter among his group of friends, they'd pool their money together and bet against whoever claimed to be a good fighter from around the area. As little as $40 would be bet collectively against the other team and Jorge Masivdal would be down to fight.
Jorge Masvidal, Kimbo Slice and the famous backyard street fights:
For the uninitiated, Kimbo Slice was a bare-knuckle, street fighting legend who eventually made his way to the UFC. But long before his appearances on 'The Ultimate Fighter' and the UFC, Kimbo Slice was posting videos of some brutal street fights in his backyard.
In a video released on his YouTube channel, Jorge Masvidal recounts the first time he met Kimbo Slice in the gym. Slice asked Masvidal if he was down to fight, and 'Gamebred', being the fighter he is, instantly agreed. It was all very discreet, because street fighting was and still is illegal to this day. However, that wasn't going to stop these men from doing what they loved and trying to earn some money through bets.
Kimbo Slice's protege Ray was making a name for himself as a knockout artist in those backyard fights. Jorge Masvidal showed up to fight a visibly bigger opponent in Ray, and went on to knock the man out convincingly. This was long before Masvidal got his neck tattoo and called himself 'Gamebred'. His cage name listed in the fight is 'Ponytail'.
The biggest takeaway from this video is not that Jorge Masvidal was in this viral YouTube clip from years ago, but that he says he has already been in way too many fights.
Jorge Masvidal is a fighter in every sense of the word. He has spoken about how he got into his first fight at the age of four, and went on to scrap over and over well before the Kimbo Slice backyard fights. In the ESPN interview with Brett Okamoto, he even talked about how he was beating up a fourth grader who slapped him when 'Gamebred' himself was in the second grade.
BT Sport recently released a video-game style tribute to Jorge Masvidal's street fighting days:
Jorge Masvidal faces the biggest moment of his fighting career this Saturday as he takes on Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight championship. He fought the champion at UFC 251 on six-days notice. He was promised a fair shot, and he now has it in his home state with a full capacity crowd.
Can 'Gamebred' rise to the challenge and walk away with the title?