Forgive Masvidal for looking into the future a bit, though. The American Top Team product has had four ranked opponents pulled from him by the UFC in recent years. The latest was Kelvin Gastelum, who Masvidal was supposed to fight last month in Mexico City.
Gastelum was yanked from that fight to face Donald Cerrone at UFC 205 in New York. That contest never happened, because Gastelum was unable to make weight.
"I never think past any man, because every guy has two hands and every dude wants to hurt you," Masvidal told MMA Fighting. "But god willing and I get this victory, I want to whoop Donald Cerrone's ass. I don't say I want to compete with him, because I don't. I want to whoop his ass. He took Kelvin Gastelum from me and put lies to the public, that he'd fight anybody, any place."
Masvidal (30-11) said Cerrone had the option to face him after Gastelum fell off. Instead, Cerrone will take on Matt Brown at UFC 206 on Dec. 10 in Toronto. Masvidal, of course, was already booked against Ellenberger. But, on the other hand, Gastelum was booked against Masvidal before that fight was scrapped.
"Right after [Cerrone's] fight got dropped, I put my name in there," Masvidal said. "My name was on the table. He chose Matt Brown, the guy that almost got assassinated on national TV. He chose that fight. Why? I wonder why he chose that fight over me."
The guy who knocked Brown out at UFC 201 in July was Ellenberger, who will be across the Octagon from Masvidal on Friday night. This wasn't the matchup Masvidal wanted. He doesn't think a win would elevate him in the rankings as much as a win over Gastelum would have.
"I was gonna fight No. 5 in the world," Masvidal said. "Now I'm fighting, I think he's No. 15 in the world. So obviously it's not the matchup I would have preferred, but this is obviously as good as it gets for me right now. This is the cream of the crop for me right now. So I've gotta take it and keep moving forward."
Ellenberger (31-11) is a unique challenge. He's physically gifted, a good wrestler and has some of the best one-punch knockout power in the division. Consistency has been an issue recently for Ellenberger, but when he's on, he's flat-out scary. Masvidal believes he knows why Ellenberger has been up and down over the last few years.
"I know exactly what I'm gonna get — I'm gonna get that post-USADA dude," Masvidal said. "I've never been a dude that has relied on anything that USADA has a problem with. The things that I rely on, USADA doesn't have a problem with them. I'm gonna continue to be the same athlete that I've always been."
In Masvidal's perfect world, he beats Ellenberger this weekend, gets a spot in the UFC's top-15 rankings, and then gets the bout he's been seeking against Cerrone.
"That's just the fight I want," Masvidal said. "I want to expose him to the real truth. He thinks he's gonna fight whoever they put in front of him. My name gets brought up, he's like, ‘Oh, I don't want to fight that dude.' I'm sick and tired of that sh*t, you know what I'm saying?"