"I definitely don’t think I’m getting the recognition as far as fighting the opponents I should be, but I just keep putting in the work and knocking these bums out." - Jorge Masvidal
From the time UFC 178 was starting to take shape, lightweight firestarter Donald Cerrone has been linked to the September 27 fight card in Las Vegas, but there has been a revolving door of opponents positioned opposite “Cowboy.”
First it was contender Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, as soon as the bout was verbally set, it was scrapped when the unbeaten American Kickboxing Academy representative wrecked his knee during a training session the exact same day.
Then it was Bobby Green, fresh off a debated split decision win over Josh Thomson at the end of the July and riding an eight-fight winning streak that carried the 28-year-old from Inland Empire, California into the Top 10 in the 155-pound weight class.
Finally, it was Eddie Alvarez locked in opposite Cerrone, the tandem established as the co-main event of the highly anticipated fight card.
While the shuffling of fighters scheduled to take on the surging WEC vet ultimately resulted in an intriguing matchup for the fans, the trickle down effect of the alterations left Jorge Masvidal to prepare for a new opponent, even though the man he was originally contracted to meet is currently without a fight.
Before the game of matchmaking musical chairs started, the American Top Team product was tabbed to face Green in a grudge match several years in the making.
The two were supposed to face off when they both fought for Strikeforce during the organization’s last days, but a rash of injuries washed out the main card, prompting the cancellation of the event. After migrating to the UFC and making their way up the ranks in the talent-rich lightweight division, the two were once again paired together and as soon as the matchup was made official, the two started trading barbs and banter over social media.
But then Green was pulled from the pairing, slotted opposite Cerrone and then replaced by Alvarez, with Masvidal set to face off with James Krause instead, leaving “Gamebred” focused on making a statement and still eying a showdown with Green, on one condition.
“As long as he doesn’t lose and get exposed, I’ll kick his ass,” Masvidal said of a possible future encounter with the man he’s twice been scheduled to fight, but still yet to face. “Once he gets exposed, he’s no good to me, but as long as he’s unbeaten (in the UFC), I’m willing to bring that hype to an end.
“I don’t think Bobby Green is a Top 10 guy just because they put a number on him. I was happy to get the fight, but his ass ain’t Top 10. I haven’t talked to anybody that feels he won (his fight with Thomson) and even if he did, he’s not a Top 10 guy.
“I’m still gonna kick his ass somewhere down the road.”
For now, his focus has shifted to Krause, a tall and rangy lightweight who has gone 2-1 in his first three appearances in the UFC. Most recently, the 28-year-old Grindhouse MMA fighter earned a victory over Jamie Varner when the former WEC champion was unable to continue after the first round due to a broken ankle.
While the switch from facing a heated rival in a long-awaited fight to squaring off with an unranked, albeit still dangerous, opponent is something fight fans and analysts often use as an opportunity to question a fighter’s preparation and focus heading into a particular fight, there is no need to do that with Masvidal.
As much as Krause wasn’t the man he was originally expecting to face at UFC 178, the 10-year veteran still has taken the same approach to readying himself for Krause as he would any other opponent.
“Preparation for this camp has been amazing because I was in shape, with no injuries coming off the last fight. Some bumps and bruises, but nothing major, so I was able to get right back in the gym and keep things going. I didn’t miss a beat.
“I’m ready to go, man. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life right now. I’ve been eating Steak ‘n Shake every day and still good on weight, so I’m not worried about nothing right now,” the notorious junk food addict adds with a laugh.
Despite the change in opponent and feeling like the overlooked member of the lightweight class, Masvidal isn’t letting any of it get to him. The laid-back Miami native has taken it all in stride, embracing the chance to collect another paycheck and showcase his talents inside the Octagon for a third time in just over six months.
And he’s planning on using UFC 178 as his launching pad to the bigger fights against top-ranked opposition that he craves.
“I definitely don’t think I’m getting the recognition as far as fighting the opponents I should be, but I just keep putting in the work and knocking these bums out,” Masvidal, who has won four of five in the UFC and currently sits at No. 12 in the UFC Fighter Rankings, says. “I’m gonna put on a show this fight. I try to put on a show every fight and sometimes it’s not as exciting as others, but I’m gonna look to stop him.
I’m gonna do what I do: punch him in the face, take him down at some point and keep punching him in the face some more. Rinse and repeat. I’m going to stop this guy.
”James Krause – I’m going to kick your ass.”