This Saturday, at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi, Jorge Masvidal will challenge Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight championship. This comes on the heels of a 2019 campaign that saw Masvidal claim Fighter of the Year honors while launching himself into widespread superstardom. And according to Ben Askren, Masvidal has him to thank for that.
Masvidal is one of the most seasoned veterans in the UFC, having joined the organization in 2013. But despite his long tenure with the UFC, “Gamebred” had never achieved much in the way of mainstream popularity. But in 2019, Masvidal had one of the most impressive late-career renaissances, skyrocketing his Q-rating with knockouts of Askren, Darren Till, and a doctor’s stoppage of Nate Diaz to claim the one-off ‘BMF’ title. But Askren says that it was Masvidal’s record-breaking knockout of him that really launched Masvidal’s career resurgence.
“I put the spotlight on him,” Askren told ESPN yesterday. “It is (all me). His Twitter followers, his Instagram followers went 5x, I put the spotlight on him. I played the foil to him. I let him shine. Unfortunately, right? I thought I was going to crush him.”
Askren certainly has a case to make. Despite only jumping to the UFC in 2019, Askren immediately became a fan-favorite within the company and was quickly embroiled in feuds with half of the top-ranked welterweights. His fight against Masvidal at UFC 239 was a highly anticipated matchup, and then Masvidal knocked him out in five seconds, a finish which gained massive national exposure.
But Askren is not trying to take all the credit for Masvidal’s stardom. “Funky” says that he provided the platform for Masvidal to ascend, but “Street Jesus” capitalized on it and connected with people for being who he is.
“He says some of these things like ‘three-piece and a soda’ that maybe isn’t intentionally funny but it’s really authentic,” Askren said. “People love that when he says F-ing super necessary, which I feel like he was kind of a douche for punching me when I was already unconscious. I thought that was unnecessary, but he says it was super necessary. And you know what, it is pretty funny. I was the dude that got punched and I’ll say, you know what, that was Jorge being real and that was kind of funny. Even though it was me and I thought he was a douchebag for punching me when I was unconscious, it was kind of funny. So, yes, there is a certain authenticity to Jorge that people really, really enjoy.
“Think about the people who are really popular, they’re very authentic. When they start getting fake, they start their demise. Like Ronda (Rousey). I think she was really authentic in the beginning and then she started having this prima donna thing to her and people freaking hated it.”
Conversely, Askren says Masvidal’s opponent this weekend, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, is exactly the opposite. Askren and Usman have a long history together, dating back to their wrestling days where the two both trained at the Olympic training center. When Askren came to the UFC last year, arguably his most bitter feud was with Usman, both because Usman was champion and because, Askren says, he didn’t like the new persona Usman had adopted.
“He goes to MMA and all the sudden he has this persona that he’s the hardest dude ever and he’s so cool, and it’s fake!” Askren said. “Everyone sees that it’s fake! That’s why he can’t get fans, because we know it’s fraudulent. It’s not real and that’s why I was so annoyed. That’s not the dude that you were. You came to MMA and you thought you had to be this other person, and people are seeing through it. . . People don’t like fraudulence. They love it when people are authentic.”
But despite his clear respect for Masvidal and his obvious distaste for Usman, Askren still thinks that come Saturday, personal authenticity isn’t going to matter, because while Usman may not be “real” in interviews, he is very real in the cage.
“I would probably lean towards Usman, for sure, but I think there are distinct possibilities where Masvidal will win,” Askren said. “I hate saying it. It pains me to say it but yes, I think Usman is going to win and that’s so annoying.”
Back. Bellator MMA expected to partner with Showtime Boxing in July 24 return at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The A-Side Live Chat.
The BMF title fight.
Top finishes of Jorge Masvidal.
Anatomy of UFC 251.
Francis Ngannou ripping shots.
Heavy Hands. Breaking down the biggest fights at UFC 251.
Fights Gone By. Discussing the most important fights at Fight Island.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
No comment— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) July 9, 2020
As bad as that was cant say it was unexpected, dude is a loose cannon. https://t.co/wzaTDaUsuH— Troll Smasher (@Benaskren) July 9, 2020
Mike Perry is a piece of shit. Why anyone is surprised by the circulating video is beyond me. History repeating & no one should be surprised.— Combat Veteran (@beatdown155) July 9, 2020
Lots blurred by the on screen image you see.
Trained athletes acting out is ridiculous when he had the ability to walk away@ufc #ufc
Of course because your actions are indefensible. You should be better but I guess some things never change— Combat Veteran (@beatdown155) July 9, 2020
Your no comment should’ve been an apology for your actions https://t.co/Yo3exUZmpr
I really need to thank Mike perry for opening my eyes. Who needs coaches? pic.twitter.com/kA9z94lmHP— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) July 9, 2020
forget that shit of fight in bar and hit old mans , it’s just another’ normal Wednesday here at my street in Brazil— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) July 9, 2020
It’s completely normal get drunk an hit old mans in Ireland too— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) July 9, 2020
Multiple personalities of Kamarudeen Usman on full display during fight week. Rode in on dana whites lap now you are on a private plane? Which personality showed up to fight island? #superweird pic.twitter.com/JHsDiJaK80— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) July 8, 2020
@FrankieEdgar Thank you for your concern!! I will be recovered very soon, and I’m looking forward to sharing the octagon with you!! It will be an honor!!!— Pedro Munhoz (@PedroMunhozmma) July 8, 2020
Thank you everybody who has been reaching out I’m feeling good. Frankie Edgar and I will make this fight happen soon— Pedro Munhoz (@PedroMunhozmma) July 8, 2020
Rumor has it that usman is upset that Jorge is getting all the media attention and has asked the ufc to please include him in the national media spots.— Ibrahim Kawa (@Abraham_kawa) July 9, 2020
Wonder what that is.
Good new coming soon Novidades em breve. pic.twitter.com/MO30JN6Na3— Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) July 8, 2020
Awkward moment when you were ready for fight island but they left without you pic.twitter.com/V3cYq1cboC— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) July 8, 2020
Fight island looks so cool. I would have loved to fight there. What an experience— JIMI MANUWA (@POSTERBOYJM) July 9, 2020
Ready to get back at it.
Fight contract signed! UFC 253 pic.twitter.com/BvOKfdPFYf— MackenzieDern (@MackenzieDern) July 9, 2020
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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