Jorge Masvidal is thrilled the UFC is back in Miami.
On Saturday, Masvidal fights in the co-main event of UFC 287, the UFC’s first event in Miami in 20 years. It’s a landmark fight card, and one that has a special significance for Masvidal, who happened to be in attendance for UFC 42 all those years ago.
“I was here at that UFC event, live, it was my first live event ever,” Masvidal said at UFC 287 media day. “Twenty years ago, I was 17, about to turn 18, so that means I could become a professional. I didn’t know all the details of it but I knew what this lifestyle would entail. I was at the event, the nostalgia of seeing all these fighters I’ve been f****** dissecting since I was 11, 12 years old — because that’s when the sport caught ahold of me and consumed me.
“After that, all that euphoria, I was able to analyze what was happening and the speed and the techniques and the movement and the endurance, I looked over to my boy and I said, ‘Not only can I do this, but I’ll bring this show, eventually, one day, here.’ That eventually took 20 years, so it took me a little bit, but we’re here.”
As the chosen son of the city, in some ways UFC 287 is built around Masvidal, but “Gamebred” has a tough matchup ahead of him. Currently on a three-fight losing streak, Masvidal is the biggest betting underdog on the card on Saturday when he faces Gilbert Burns.
But despite the wide odds, and the fact that Masvidal himself admits his career is on the back nine, he believes he will give the Miami crowd something to cheer about.
“It’s not no diss to Gilbert or nothing, I just feel like throughout my whole career, I would match up very well with him,” Masvidal said. “At any point in my career, I could beat this guy, stylistically. I am coming off three losses. One of those losses had rather interesting circumstances: I took a fight on six days’ notice, I flew all the way to Abu Dhabi, I lost 20 pounds — and I’m not taking that away from [Kamaru] Usman. He still beat me and he had to prepare for me in just six days. So it’s not like I don’t take that one into credit, but also, those were interesting circumstances.
“Then I suffered two more losses after that. So if I suffer a fourth, a lot of evaluation has to take place. So I’m not going in there thinking this is my last fight, but with the emotions running and this and that, four losses in a row, I’ve also been in this sport for 20 years, I’ve got 50-something fights, I’ve got more knockouts than these guys have fights ... it’s a rather long journey and my body does have a lot of wear and tear on it.
“Whether I get on the microphone and talk about it like these other b****** talk about it, ‘This is hurting, my knees, this that,’ I’ve got the same injuries, just, I’m a man. I’m going to keep it to myself. Plus, I’m not going to expose it to the world for the world to know what’s wrong or right. I just feel I just have to go out there and do my job Saturday.”
Unfortunately for Masvidal, even if he manages to deliver Miami another highlight reel knockout, that still leaves his future up in the air. Though Masvidal has a preexisting beef with welterweight champion Leon Edwards, UFC president Dana White already declared Colby Covington to be the next 170-pound title challenger, meaning even if Masvidal picks up the best win of his career, it might not amount to the title shot he wants.
But as Masvidal notes, he is undeniably the biggest fight for Edwards at this moment.
“It goes without saying, me and Leon sell pay-per-views,” Masvidal said. “Leon and Usman, what did that do? Those numbers aren’t even out because they’re so s*****, that’s what I heard. They’re both great fighters and great tacticians and stuff, but they don’t risk it for the biscuit all the time. Fans are like, ‘Eh, OK. You’re kind of playing it safe and doing the distance thing or doing the hugging thing and just sniffing nuts.’ Fans don’t want to pay that s***.
“Somebody who is a construction worker, busts his ass every day of his life, come Saturday, they want to get distracted, they want to forget about all of their worries. They don’t want to see two guys just f****** hugging each other, staring at each other. So when you add me to the mix, you know, win or lose, I’m going to try to take somebody’s soul with me and try to entertain the f*** out of you. That’s the only reason why I sell pay-per-views.”
And so, given their history and his own star power, Masvidal remains confident that with a win on Saturday, he will jump the line and get his third shot at the UFC welterweight title.
“I think they’re just setting the pedestal for me way higher,” Masvidal said. “They just want me to do some epic-ass ‘Gamebred’ Miami s*** on Gilbert’s face, and that’s it. The tidal wave of that night is going to [overshadow] anything else going on. Obviously I’m going to be rooting and advocating for myself over everybody, especially this f****** cop-calling, cupcake-eating-ass b****.”
UFC 287 takes place Saturday at the Kaseya Center in Miami.