It’s been a wild few days for Jorge Masvidal after accepting a short-notice title opportunity to face welterweight king Kamaru Usman at UFC 251, flying halfway around the world and now sitting in quarantine as he awaits the final results of his COVID-19 tests after arriving in Abu Dhabi.
For all the positive things that led to the “BMF” champion stepping into the main event, Masvidal also had to endure some unwelcome bad news after learning that his head coach Mike Brown would not be in his corner this weekend.
The former WEC champion-turned-American Top Team coach was forced to skip out on UFC 251 after he tested positive for COVID-19. While Brown assured MMA Fighting on Tuesday that he was “all good” physically, it still doesn’t negate his importance to Masvidal heading into the biggest fight of his career.
“It sucked emotionally just because I want him there when I get that belt,” Masvidal told ESPN when asked about Brown’s absence from his corner. “I needed this individual to be there because he’s a huge part of my career. He’s been there for such a long time. We’ve been friends for such a long time as well. It took the air from all of us.
“Every single one of me and my cornermen were devastated by it. Thank god, Mike doesn’t have any symptoms, nothing, any cold symptoms or sore throat or nothing. So he’s great right now.”
Brown never got to “Fight Island” because his positive test was returned prior to the trip so he began a long journey driving back to Florida while Masvidal boarded a private jet provided by his management team.
Without Brown in Abu Dhabi, Masvidal sets foot in the octagon on Saturday night with at least three corner men including his longtime boxing coach Paulino Hernandez as well as his manager Abraham Kawa.
Judging by his demeanor, Masvidal was mostly upset he won’t be able to share a special moment in his career with Brown, but he promises the result of the fight will still be the same no matter who’s coaching him.
“I’m going to baptize his ass,” Masvidal said. “That’s for a fact. That’s what you can bet on. That’s the secret sauce right there. I’m going to baptize him.
“I’m going to do it in violent fashion and I’m going to separate myself from the pack even more than I have in the past.”