A proud Miami native of Cuban and Peruvian heritage, Jorge Masvidal spent a number of years as one of MMA’s unsung standouts — a technical striker with strong takedown defense that fought a tough slate of competition across a collection of promotions, earning the respect of his peers and hardcore audiences alike.
Over the last several years, “Gamebred” has grown into one of the biggest stars in the sport after grabbing the spotlight with both hands, forcing the world to pay attention to his exploits inside the cage while adding several of his sayings and phrases to the MMA lexicon.
This month’s look at the top moments in the UFC careers of several of the company’s top Hispanic talents wouldn’t be complete without a stroll down memory lane with the 35-year-old fighter who has gone from nothing to something while representing his people and his city every step of the way.
So yeah, this collection was super-necessary.
Here are the Top 5 UFC moments in the career of Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal.
UFC ON FOX 8 VS. MICHAEL CHIESA
After winning his UFC debut three months earlier, Masvidal ventured to Chiesa’s home state to take on the recent Ultimate Fighter winner, who was 9-0 at the time after winning his post-TUF debut against Anton Kuivanen five months earlier.
Chiesa was the “A Side” of this engagement — the unbeaten rising star fresh off a breakout turn on the long-running reality TV competition and a second-round submission win earlier in the year. Early in the fight, it looked like “Maverick” might stay undefeated, as he dropped Masvidal with flurry of strikes less than two minutes into the opening round and seemed to be the sharper of the two for a prolonged stretch to begin the contest.
But by the midway point of the middle stanza, Chiesa began to tire and Masvidal started to find a rhythm, stuffing slowed takedown attempts and ripping big shots to Chiesa’s body to further sap his energy. Masvidal showcased his own prowess on the canvas, keeping Chiesa on his back, hammering him with ground-and-pound while flowing through transitions as Chiesa looked to work free and get back to his feet.
Late in the second, Masvidal attacked with a D’Arce choke, patiently maintaining his position while methodically sinking the hold in deeper, squeezing out the tap with just one second remaining in the round, much to the dismay of the pro-Chiesa crowd in Seattle.
UFC ON FOX 23 VS. DONALD CERRONE
Three-and-a-half years after the Chiesa fight, Masvidal was five fights into a return to welterweight. After dropping consecutive split decisions to Benson Henderson and Lorenz Larkin, “Gamebred” outhustled Ross Pearson before stopping Jake Ellenberger, setting up another “Hometown Showdown” with the streaking Cerrone.
“Cowboy” had relocated to the 170-pound ranks after failing in his bid to claim the lightweight title at the close of 2015, going 4-0 with four finishes in 2016 to establish himself as a contender in the welterweight division. After knocking out Matt Brown in December, Cerrone quickly hustled into this co-main event pairing with Masvidal six weeks later in Denver, eager to compete close to where he grew up and put himself in the thick of the title chase should he collect another win.
Cerrone started well, but Masvidal was unbothered, taking the first two minutes to find his range and get a read on his opponent’s timing, absorbing everything Cerrone threw at him. Over the middle two minutes, Masvidal slowly started to throw more, landing with stiff jabs while showing little concern for whatever was coming back his way, and then in the final 30 seconds, he really began to open up.
A two-piece combo landed clean and was followed by a kick to the body and another right hand over the top that put Cerrone on the defensive. Another body kick crashed home and then a clubbing right put “Cowboy” on the deck. Masvidal chased him to the mat with follow-up blows and it appeared like the fight had been stopped as the referee intervened prior to the horn echoing through the arena.
The fight continued, but the onslaught did as well, as Masvidal immediately pressed forward and got loose with his strikes, hitting Cerrone with punches to the body and head with a couple knees to the midsection mixed in for good measure. Cerrone responded with a kick to the body, but left his hands down, and Masvidal capitalized, flooring him with a looping right hand before unloading a salvo of punches that prompted Herb Dean to step in and stop the fight.
This was a breakout performance that vaulted “Gamebred” into title contention, but it was also the forgotten effort in Masvidal’s rise up the ranks, as he would lose his next two and watch a future opponent hustle past him in the welterweight hierarchy.
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UFC FIGHT NIGHT 147 VS. DARREN TILL
After beating Cerrone, Masvidal dropped an ultra-close decision to Demian Maia in a title eliminator at UFC 211, then landed on the wrong side of the cards in a clash with Stephen Thompson six months later in New York City.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s Till had his own breakthrough showing against “Cowboy” nine months after his loss to Masvidal, and then followed it up with a hometown victory over “Wonderboy” that propelled him into a championship fight against Tyron Woodley at UFC 228.
Following Till’s loss to Woodley, Masvidal emerged from a year on the sidelines to take on the returning former title challenger in the main event of the UFC’s annual March event in London, England.
The first punch Till threw put Masvidal on the canvas, sending the partisan crowd into a tizzy, but “Gamebred” quickly worked his way back to his feet and re-engaged with a smile on his face. The remainder of the first round was a cat-and-mouse affair, with each man taking a turn leading the exchanges, offering a variety of attacks and having success in spurts over the final four minutes of the opening round.
It was more of the same to start the second, with Till pressing forward and Masvidal backing him off with return fire. The duo continued their tango through the first three minutes of the round, but just as the clock ticked past two minutes, “Gamebred” uncorked a left hand that caught Till flush and sent him crashing to the canvas in a heap, silencing the partisan crowd at The O2 Arena.
If anyone had forgotten about Masvidal’s talents or his standing as a serious threat in the welterweight division, they were reminded of both in this one, as his transatlantic journey resulted in him icing a recent title challenger on his home turf before getting into a bit of a dust-up backstage with ascending contender Leon Edwards, as well.
This was the night where Masvidal’s emergence as one of the biggest stars in the UFC really began, but it would explode in his very next fight.
UFC 239 VS. BEN ASKREN
This is one of those instances where you just have to watch what transpires before we can even talk about what happened.
I’ve seen a lot of fights and a lot of impressive finishes, but this one is right up there near the top of the list, and that’s even before knowing that Masvidal and his head coach, Mike Brown, were working on this exact sequence, expecting things to play out exactly as they did, in the days leading up to the fight.
Masvidal and Askren had spent the build up to this fight bickering with one another every chance they got, and you can see Masvidal chirping at Askren as the referee is waiting for the Octagon to empty and the fight to begin. At the time, Masvidal’s grin as he put his hands behind his back felt like a savvy veteran enjoying himself as he got ready to go to work, but now we know it was more of a “You’ve got no idea what I’ve got in store for you” type deal and boy was that the truth.
This was a perfect shot, and even though the official five-second fight time established a new record for the fastest knockout in UFC history, you could make a case that it should be three seconds, because Askren was out as soon as Masvidal’s knee met his chin. While he would later call the follow-up blows “super-necessary,” they were academic because this one was D-O-N-E DONE as soon as he elevated and Askren dipped his head.
The finish, his post-fight celebrations, and his performance at the press conference launched Masvidal to a new stratosphere of stardom, setting up the headlining turn at Madison Square Garden.
UFC 244 VS. NATE DIAZ
If his highlight reel win over Askren turned Masvidal into a household name, this is the bout that showcased just how damn good the 18-year veteran is and made him a bona fide superstar in the UFC.
In a clash for the “BMF” title between a pair of real deal fighters with a wealth of experience between them, Masvidal turned his UFC 244 main event showdown with Diaz at MSG into a lopsided victory.
Diaz had returned from a three-year absence earlier in the year, picking apart and outworking Anthony Pettis at UFC 241 to show that was still one of the top contenders in the welterweight division, but he had little to offer the slicker, quicker, savvier Masvidal, who hurt Diaz inside the opening minute, opening a nasty cut over his right eye that would become a factor in the outcome later in the fight.
Masvidal was locked in from the jump, and after busting up Diaz early, he continued to snipe at the cut and steadily punish Diaz for the next 14 minutes, loving every single second of what was transpiring inside the Octagon.
As the fighters readied to resume the action between the third and fourth rounds, the ringside physician entered the cage to look at the gash over Diaz’s eye and the fight was waved off.
The fans were incensed, the fighters were disappointed, but the result wasn’t in doubt and the ending did nothing to diminish the blistering performance that Masvidal had put together to secure the anti-climactic stoppage win and claim the BMF title.