In the most personal fight of his life against former friend and teammate Colby Covington, Masvidal spent the better part of five rounds defending takedowns and getting outwrestled before ultimately losing a lopsided unanimous decision.
While losses are obviously part of competition, the 37-year-old veteran laments just how bad this particular setback stings, especially when he considers how much he wanted to beat Covington.
“To lose to a b**** like that, I mean all he does is talk about people’s kids, religions, nations, obviously nobody wants to lose to a coward like that,” Masvidal said at the UFC 272 post-fight press conference. “I felt like I lost the wrestling exchanges. The fight, whatever. I know I did damage. I think I dropped him twice. It just sucks.
“[I was] f***** flat in the wrestling and he jumped on it and he was able to take me down. There was like one or two times where I felt him getting really tired on the takedowns, and all of a sudden, he got that takedown. I was like stuffing the second and third attempt then on the fourth one, he got me down. He’s got good control once he’s on top.”
In the striking exchanges, Masvidal definitely had his moments, but none bigger than the fourth round, when he clipped Covington with a punch that dropped the former interim welterweight champion down to a knee.
With Covington still wobbled from the punch, Masvidal failed to really follow up with the kind of barrage that could have potentially ended the fight.
“I didn’t pounce after I dropped him,” Masvidal said. “I wasn’t surprised that he bounced up. I was just surprised that I didn’t go and take his head off. I thought he was going to shoot immediately on me, so I was just thinking of wrong s*** instead of just going to take his head off. I was tired. He was tired and hurt.
“That was my chance right there. That was that window of like five or six seconds to give it all I’ve got and make a sprint and make a big change. Maybe I could have made that round 10-8, 10-7, who knows but I didn’t take that opening.”
According to Masvidal, he wasn’t surprised by the strategy that Covington employed but he can only lament his inability to force the fight to go in a different direction.
“I wrestled like s***,” Masvidal said. “I lost a lot of exchanges that if I would have won them, I mean on a technical level things could have gone a little different. If I would have made him expend more energy on certain takedowns. That first takedown I gave up, he took my back and he rode me pretty good. That got me a little flat. Went into the next round, I felt like I won a lot of the exchanges.
“I felt like on the feet, I definitely did more damage, but it’s a fight, and I mean, s***, if I could do it all over again, I would have gone to college and wrestled my ass off and got grades up and be able to stuff all these guys up and keep it on the feet, but I was just flat on the wrestling.”
In his previous three losses — two fights against UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and then Covington on Saturday night — Masvidal has given up a total of 13 takedowns and 35 minutes of control time in those fights. That’s how he knows he has to make some dramatic improvements in his wrestling if he hopes to win these kinds of fights, and why he’s not trying to call out anybody coming off this loss.
“I think the only thing that makes sense is for me to get in the gym, me to get into track and field and just get after it,” he said. “Get in great shape, see where my headspace is at and then three or four months from now, make that decision who’s next. For right now, I want to clear the cobwebs up. It’s not that I’m hurt or nothing but to lose to a punk like that, it sucks.
“If I fight another wrestler, I need to make sure I can deal with this thing. It’s always been tough fights for me with the wrestlers. Thinking ‘is he going to shoot on me?’ so I don’t open up as much on my feet as I should and then I get in big scrambles and I get out-scrambled. I need to fix the wrestling.”
After the decision was read in the octagon, Masvidal and his coaches were still exchanging words with Covington and his team in the cage, which proved that the disdain between the fighters was definitely real and not some kind of manufactured hype.
Masvidal knows he’s got some work to do if he’s ever going to earn a rematch. But then again, he might still try to settle the score if he happens to cross paths with Covington outside the UFC.
“It just sucks because this idiot talked about my kids,” Masvidal said. “He’s still somebody that if I see him out in the streets, I’m going to give him everything I’ve got to break his f**** jaw. It doesn’t matter if I lost wrestling scrambles tonight, I still think he’s a f***** p****, you know?”