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Masvidal finally gets his shot, now time to deliver


For the last several months, Jorge Masvidal has been peppering social media with posts carrying a pair of hashtags that seem to get under the skin of some members of the MMA community: #EasyMoneyCampaign and #MakeUFCGreatAgain.

The latter is an obvious riff on President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, but the meaning of the former is a little less clear.

Some have interpreted it as Masvidal taking a shot at the rest of the welterweight division and specifically Donald Cerrone, the man he’ll meet in the co-main event of this weekend’s UFC on FOX event in Denver. Others see it as the Miami native with the mischievous grin and laid back charisma simply having a little fun on Twitter. But what does it really mean?

“A part of me wants to tell people, but the real part of me is like, ‘The game is to be sold, not told’ and I can’t be putting on people for free,” Masvidal said when asked about his hashtag game. “People keep getting upset when they see the hashtag #EasyMoneyCampaign and they talking about, ‘Why you calling this dude a bum or that dude a bum?’

“I ain’t call nobody a bum; I say easy money, you know? A lot of these people getting mad are just dumb – they don’t know where I come from and what I’ve gone through and how hard it is to actually get money.”
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Nicknames come in all shapes and styles in the fight game – comical or serious; elaborate or simple; apropos or off the mark – but “Gamebred” is a very fitting handle for Masvidal to carry.

The 32-year-old veteran has been fighting his entire life. Whether it was regional shows in the early 2000s in Florida, brief stints in any number of organizations or dalliances with professional boxing and the backyard fight scene that carried Kimbo Slice to fame, Masvidal has always had a gift for slinging hands and has used his pugilistic talents to carry him to where he is today.

It’s not that Cerrone or any other opponent is short on talent in the eyes of the American Top Team product; it’s that when it comes to making a living, stepping into the cage and doing what he’s always done is an easy way to collect a paycheck as far as Masvidal is concerned.

“This is easy to me; this is what I love to do,” he said of fighting. “I don’t give a f*** who they put in front of me. They put Bruce Lee, Fedor Emelianenko in his prime – it’s a fight; this is what I consider easy.”

But Saturday’s showdown with the surging New Mexico resident with roots in the Mile High City isn’t just another day at the office for the underrated veteran Masvidal, who enters the contest on a two-fight winning streak and sporting a 31-11 record overall.

Following his victory over Jake Ellenberger in early December, “Gamebred” called out Cerrone by name, specifying Saturday’s FOX event in Denver as his preferred date. As expected, “Cowboy” was more than happy to oblige and the battle of division-jumping gunslingers was good to go, giving Masvidal the opportunity he’s been chasing for a couple years now.

In the past, Masvidal has been the victim of bad luck with opponent changes and being the odd man out, and Cerrone landed opposite fighters the Floridian was initially ticketed to face on two occasions. Coupled with a trio of split decision losses that left the self-admitted junk food fiend feeling salty after the cards were read, the way things have shaken out for him at times has left Masvidal irritated. But he knows a win over Cerrone on Saturday would have a significant impact on his future.

That’s why he’s so eager to get in the cage and throw down with the former WEC standout and perennial contender, provided he makes it to Pepsi Center on Fight Night.

“I’m excited about the fight, but I won’t be excited until I actually get in the cage because I don’t know if this fight still might happen,” Masvidal jokes. “Maybe me and you could say a little prayer for him (Cerrone) right now, that he makes it to this fight? What do you think?”

Laughter followed, but this weekend is serious business for Masvidal.
Jorge Masvidal punches <a href='../fighter/Ross-Pearson'>Ross Pearson</a> during their bout at UFC 201 last July
He knows that he needs a win over Cerrone in order for the #EasyMoneyCampaign to continue rolling towards its ultimate destination – UFC gold – and as far as Masvidal is concerned, as long as “Cowboy” turns up on Saturday, he’ll get to where he wants to go this year.

“The #EasyMoneyCampaign is going to bring you – mixed with Making the UFC Great Again – the title and titles for all those that supported me from the beginning. There’s going to be a lot of fans after this fight, but this is mainly for the ones that have been supporting me since my backyard days, since all the times I’ve had these f***** up decisions, but they’re still supporting me heavy duty – I’m gonna bring that title back for all those people, all my real fans and supporters.

“I got my shot. If I don’t end this year on the note that I want to, it’s all on me. I got the shot. As long as this fight with Cowboy materializes, I’m going to be where I need to be.”