Jorge Masvidal made a pretty big splash at UFC on FOX 23 by taking out Donald Cerrone. In some ways, though he’s been around for over 40 pro fights going back to his days fighting on the Southern Florida circuit in the mid-aughts, that was the night Masvidal truly arrived. He schooled the striker Cerrone at his own game in Cerrone’s backyard and — amid a cascade of boos — challenged UFC president Dana White to come up with the fighter that could defeat him. To sweeten the deal, he even proposed said he had $200,000 that White couldn’t.
The bet wasn’t accepted (at least not publicly), but perhaps he got what he wanted in a big fight with No. 1 contender Demian Maia, whom he’ll face on May 13 in Dallas. Masvidal has won three in a row, and is now in a position to leapfrog one of the UFC’s hottest fighters in the pecking order.
And though there’s been an outcry that Maia — who has won six straight fights — should be fighting for a title next, Masvidal doesn’t have any sympathy for him.
“He’s on a six fight winning streak, and he’s beaten some good guys,” Masvidal said during a spot on The MMA Hour. “So, if they had told me that Demian was fighting for the title and I was fighting somebody else, and then I would fight for the title, as long as that somebody else was the next closest thing to the title, I wouldn’t have cared. As long as I had the next closest thing to a title. So I don’t feel bad for him. At the end of the day, he’s going to get a paycheck.”
The 32-year old Masvidal said that the UFC had finally figured out his worth of late, that he is the kind of guy who can take out undesirables who find themselves straying into title contention. The Miami native didn’t say that the UFC asked him specifically to take out Maia for those express purposes, but he implied as much by pointing to the current situation.
“I’m going to plead the fifth because I do have a job, bro,” he said when asked directly about it.
Still, why did the UFC suddenly see the light?
“Because they did the math, the ancient secret math,” he said. “They’re looking at me and going, yo, this guy is complete bro, in all f*cking areas. We could use this guy to eliminate the guys that we don’t like. So maybe Masvidal, we can’t push him that much, but we could use him to eliminate the others, because this guy for real. He’s a bad guy.”
Masvidal doesn’t do much social media (and what he does, he does so begrudgingly), but he has seen a spike in popularity since finishing Cerrone. One reason he has emerged as a fan favorite is that he tends to speak his mind when given the chance, as he did on the microphone in Denver.
He also is willing to fight just about anybody, including current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who is an American Top Team fighter just like himself.
“We used to train a lot together when we were both in Strikeforce, like a lot,” he told Ariel Helwani. “We’re buddies, and we’ve always been cool since day one. That’s not the dude that I want to fight, you know what I’m saying? But when it comes for the belt, it’s different. I didn’t get into this to high-five people. I got in this to [beat people up].”
Masvidal said he sees the bigger picture.
“So if I’m playing basketball in Miami, and LeBron goes to wherever he goes, what we’re not going to play games now? We’re not going to play in the playoffs? So, that’s one of the last dudes on the planet sincerely I want to fight. I do not want to fight Woodley because we’re cool. We’ve worked out so much together, and he’s looked out for me in the past with certain hookups that he had at the time. So I don’t want to fight that dude. But when it comes to the Finals in the NBA, we’ve got to do what we got to do. LeBron’s not going to sit out a game.”
Maia has been on one of the more remarkable runs in the UFC right now, having dominated most of the fights in his win streak, including his last one against Carlos Condit. Still, it’s unclear if Masvidal’s fight with Maia is a title eliminator to face Woodley. Masvidal himself said he wasn’t entirely sure.
“The didn’t tell me that [I’d get a title shot if I win], but that’s my assumptions,” he said.
As for a prediction of how the fight plays out, Masvidal didn’t beat around the bush.
“Before it hits the third round, the fight’s over,” he said.