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A look back at the career of Jorge Masvidal: What took so long for him to became the star he is today

Jorge Masvidal en route to his win against "Cowboy" in 2017
Jorge Masvidal en route to his win against "Cowboy" in 2017
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Modified 10 Aug 2020, 12:27 IST
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Top Welterweight contender Leon Edwards recently called out recent Jorge Masvidal following the latter's loss to Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 for what seems to be a grudge match between the two, stemming out of a backstage altercation at UFC London last year.

At UFC 251, Masvidal stepped up on 6 days notice to take on UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and saved the main event of the first-ever pay per view of the UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

"Gamebred" eventually came up short but lasted the full 5 rounds with the "Nigerian Nightmare", which is a great effort considering the amount of time Masvidal had to prepare for the fight. Rising star khamzat Chimaev also called out the Miami star saying he wants a piece of him.

So it's fair to say Masvidal's stock is very high at the moment. But that hasn't always been the case. At 35, he is a veteran of the game and one of the true OGs of the sport. He has been a pro for over 17 years, making his pro-MMA debut at the age of 18.

But it wasn't until last year when he knocked Darren Till out cold, and then punched Leon Edwards backstage as the latter interrupted him during his interview, that he started getting noticed.

You can watch the incident with Edwards below.

A record-breaking 5 second flying-knee knockout of then-undefeated Ben Askren at UFC 239 rose his stock even more. It is the fastest knockout in UFC history to this day.

He then went on to main-event the UFC 244 pay-per-view, against Nate Diaz at, the famous Madison Square Garden in New York. The inaugural BMF championship was up for grabs. "Gamebred" beat Diaz up for three rounds before the doctors stopped the fight due to a cut over Diaz's eye.

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It was a performance where Masvidal put his skills and ability on full display.

It is unprecedented that a fighter has reached such new heights of stardom in the 17th year of their career. Especially someone like Masvidal, who became a youtube sensation almost 11 years ago, as his backyard fights against Kimbo Slice's prodigy Ray became viral on the internet. You can watch the video below.

Skip to the 1:00 minute mark to see a ponytailed Masvidal in action.

In this video, Masvidal can be seen taking on a lot bigger fighter in Ray and eventually beating him up in a firefight. Back then Masvidal was already a pro having 4 fights in MMA.

Masvidal before joining the UFC

Masvidal has been a lifelong member of the toughest and most famous gym in the world, American Top Team (ATT). He has trained every day for the past 15-16 years with the likes of Colby Covington, Yoel Romero, Hector Lombard, Dustin Poirier, Robbie Lawler, and many more. He has been a global martial artist in every sense, having fought in vintage organizations like Bodog fight, Sengoku, Bellator, Strikeforce, and many more.

During his time at Bodog, he defeated the legendary Yves Edwards by a head-kick knockout.

He was also part of the main event of the first-ever Bellator card.

But it was his run at the Strikeforce lightweight division that saw him grabbing attention from the UFC.

Wins over then-undefeated prodigy Billy Evangelista and superstar K.J Noons earned him a title shot against then Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. Masvidal lost the fight by decision.

After one more fight in Strikeforce, he became a member of the UFC, as the company took over Strikeforce.

There are a few series on youtube like "Miami Hustle" and "Tales From the Grind" by GenghisConFilms which focused on the lifestyle and preparation of Masvidal during his strikeforce reign.

Those videos got the hardcore fans hyped up real good about Jorge from long ago.

Masvidal's UFC career

Masvidal's boxing skills have always been his greatest strength. Former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley believes Masvidal is the best boxer in the UFC roster.

With an undeniable range of striking talent and a complete skill set of grappling prowess, Masvidal stepped into the octagon as a complete fighter. He made his UFC debut at lightweight, defeating Tim Means via decision.

A submission victory over Michael Chiesa followed, in a fight where Masvidal put his full range of skills in the display.

After a decision loss to Rustam Khabilov in UFC: Fight for the troops 3 in 2013 Jorge went on to win 3 straight decisions against Pat Healy, Daron Cruickshank, and James Krause.

But Masvidal wasn't happy with the level of competition he was facing at lightweight. And after a controversial split decision loss against Al Iaquinta in 2015 Masvidal was very disappointed. It was a fight where Masvidal fought very technical and hurt Iaquinta bad and scored knockdowns.

Also, the weight cut at 155lbs was getting tougher for him. So he decided to move up a weight class to 170 lbs to reevaluate his UFC career.

A stunning first-round knockout against Cezar Fereira was the perfect start for him at the new weight class.

But then again two more split decision losses against Ben Henderson and Lorenz Larkin doomed his progress. Although many can argue Masvidal should have won those decisions.

A decision win over Ross Pearson, a finish over Jake Ellenberger, and then demolition of Donald Cerrone put Masvidal back on track in the 170 lbs division.

He fought Demian Maia at UFC 211, in what was a number one contender match for the title.

It was a close fight where Maia laid and prayed on Masvidal for over 2 rounds and controlled the ground game. But he did nothing significant in terms of damage. Masvidal hurt Maia badly in the stand-up part. But Masvidal lost surprisingly, as yet another controversial split decision went against him.

Another decision loss against Stephen Thompson, at UFC 217 made the situation worse for the Miami native.

Without a worthy opponent or a big fight in cards for him, frustrated Masvidal went on to join a reality TV show as he was not willing to fight anybody else other than a top contender at that point in his career.

But after returning from the gameshow he got a call from the UFC to fight Darren Till at the main event of UFC London, as the latter was without an opponent.

UFC Fight Night Till v Masvidal: Masvidal after knocking out Till in front of his home crowd
UFC Fight Night Till v Masvidal: Masvidal after knocking out Till in front of his home crowd

"The Resurrection"

It was at this point that the "resurrection" of Masvidal's career started. Decision losses have always been a problem for Masvidal. It had slowed down his progress immensely in the past.

So he decided to take matters out of the judges' hands and started knocking people out cold. He became "The Street Jesus" and started baptizing opponents. He handed Till his 2nd professional loss as he provided a highlight-reel knockout of "The Gorilla" at UFC London in 2019.

Stoppage victories over Askren and Diaz followed. His stock rose higher than ever. He is supposedly the biggest active star in the UFC at the moment.

Checkout Masvidal's octagon interview after he knocked out Ben Askren in 5 seconds to make UFC history.

He is breaking records in terms of fighting as he is currently the holder of the fastest knockout in UFC history. Masvidal is also making his mark in terms of revenue. His last fight against Kamaru Usman did a staggering 1.3 million PPV buys. Gamebred is finally making the numbers, in terms of money, that we are used to seeing from the likes of McGregor.

And his ever-present authentic personality and fighter's mindset makes him even more likable to the fans.

But the rise of gamebred was supposed to be a long-ago. He became a youtube sensation back in the day many years ago. But it was not until 2019 he became a global fighter. Some controversial split decisions that had gone against him stalled his progress greatly.

He was once the most avoided fighter in the UFC roster, mostly because of his skill level and fighting ability. Masvidal has never been a person of social media antics or any kind of sell-out showmanship. He has been authentic throughout his career and ultimately rose to stardom by staying real and being who he is.

Maybe his rise took much more time than expected but hardcore fans are grateful it finally actually happened. Everybody including the biggest names of the sport wants a piece of him now.

It is quite relieving we got to see this meteoric rise happen, finally. It would not have been fair for the fans to miss out on a true fighter and a huge superstar like Jorge "gamebred" Masvidal.

Published 10 Aug 2020, 12:27 IST
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