Late last week, the news of the main event for UFC 251 between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns being cancelled due to Burns testing positive for COVID-19 sent shockwaves through the MMA world that would have a ripple effect of epic proportions.
When it became public that Burns was off the card, both Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington were vocal on social media asking for the fight — the only difference between the two is, Jorge meant it. You see, at a record 48 professional fights before his first official UFC title fight, Jorge Masvidal has earned the nickname “Gamebred”.
- Gamebred is an animal that has been bred to be game. … All it means is that an animal has the will to win against all odds, and never to back down.
Masvidal has also became known as the “BMF” (baddest mother f*cker) champion after defeating Nate Diaz last November at Madison Square Garden and having The Rock strap the belt across his waist.
This was just the latest step in what Masvidal AKA “Street Jesus” calls The Resurrection. After Masvidal lost to Stephen Thompson in 2017, he took a near two-year sabbatical that he has stated was life-changing on multiple occasions. During this time off, Masvidal participated in a Telemundo reality TV competition show called “Exatlon Estados Unidos” in which he spent weeks without a cell phone or connection to the digital world. Masvidal, who has four split decision losses in the UFC alone, came to a realization during this time that he could no longer leave his fate in the hands of the judges.
“Street Jesus” knew he needed to baptize his opponents to the shadow realm.
Now, I am sure some of you who are new to the sport may be saying what the hell does that even mean? MMA culture has always had a connection to the anime world, in which the shadow realm references death. Now, Masvidal is not referring to a literal death, but he is talking about literally putting his opponents to sleep violently, an action in which he refers to as “baptizing” based on the “Street Jesus” moniker.
On March 16, 2019, Masvidal returned to action in London. Crazy as it sounds, he won two fights against top ranked welterweights in one day — one officially, one unofficially. Inside the Octagon, he knocked Darren Till out cold in the main event. Considering that Till was fresh off the title fight loss to Tyron Woodley, Masvidal flat-lining him in front of his native English crowd was a feat of its own.
Then came fight number two.
Another welterweight contender, Leon Edwards, interrupted Jorge Masvidal’s post fight interview with Laura Sanko — something that Masvidal did not take kindly to. The altercation escalated, resulting in one of the greatest one-liners ever delivered in an MMA interview. Masvidal told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that he hit him with a “three piece and a soda”; a line that went viral in a video that saw millions of views world-wide.
A year ago last July, Masvidal broke the UFC record for the fastest knockout in history with his brutal flying knee that stiffened Ben Askren like a board in just 5 seconds. Along with these highlight reel knockouts, Masvidal’s star on the microphone was starting to burn bright as well, garnering him attention from some of the biggest names in the sport. Weeks later at UFC 241, Masvidal was in attendance while Nate Diaz challenged him following his win over Anthony Pettis.
The Nate Diaz versus Jorge Masvidal matchup for the BMF title was one of the most fun and wildly entertaining build-ups to a fight in recent history. Sure, there was a little showmanship in the media opportunities, but there wasn’t the crazy Conor-style trash talk and antics. It was just two guys from opposite ends of the country who were born to fight (although we did see a Tony Montana style wardrobe from Masvidal).
The clash between the West Coast Gangster and Miami Goon resulted in a Doctor’s Stoppage due to a cut over Diaz’s eye following the third round. This result did not sit well with anyone involved, especially since it was a fight for the right to be called the BMF.
Once Usman defended his title the next month against Masvidal’s old roommate and training partner Colby Covington, the clear fight to make was with Masvidal. Conor talks were a farce, and, sure, Burns had the hot hand, but “ball don’t lie” in this situation.
The only reason that Burns got the fight over Masvidal came down to the money. To put it bluntly, Burns was willing to fight for cents on the dollar and undercut any negotiation leverage Masvidal had.
This has turned into a win/win opportunity for Masvidal. Think about it, even if he loses, he wins (unless he gets sparked right away). If he wins, his star grows to a rare status that very few have achieved in the sport.
Jorge has his work cut out for him and he will most certainly be at a cardio disadvantage, but when your name is “Gamebred”, you’ve always got a fighting chance.
-Jordan Kurtz is a founding member of Comments From The Peanut Gallery and The MMA Plug and can be followed on Instagram at @CommentsFromThePeanutGallery and @TheMMAPlug303