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Dana White on Jorge Masvidal’s retirement: ‘That flying knee changed his life’

Jorge Masvidal spent most of his career as one of the most underappreciated fighters in combat sports, but he retired as a legitimate superstar.

On Saturday night at UFC 287, the 38-year-old veteran retired following a unanimous decision loss to Gilbert Burns, but left with no regrets and touted how he went from nothing to becoming a multi-millionaire during his fight career. While he had actually been competing professionally for the past 20 years, Masvidal really didn’t become a massive draw until 2019, when he scored back-to-back knockouts over Darren Till and Ben Askren.

It was the latter finish that transformed Masvidal into a household name after flattening Askren with a jaw-dropping flying knee in just five seconds — a finish that remains the fastest knockout in UFC history.

“That flying knee changed his life,” White said of Masvidal at the UFC 287 post-fight press conference. “When he threw that flying knee, it changed his whole life.”

That spectacular finish led Masvidal to his next fight, where he headlined UFC 244 against Nate Diaz to crown the first and only ever “baddest motherf*****” champion with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson brought into the cage to wrap the title around the winner’s waist. Masvidal dominated the fight, with doctors calling a stop to the action after the third round because Diaz had endured too much damage to be allowed to continue.

Unfortunately, that was the last win on Masvidal’s record, but he still headlined three more UFC pay-per-views, including a pair of title fights against Kamaru Usman.

Prior to Saturday night, Masvidal mentioned that a loss to Burns could potentially lead to his retirement.

White said Masvidal ultimately made the right move, but more than anything, he commends the now-retired welterweight for getting out with the kind of financial stability that should provide for his family for years to come.

“Listen, as soon as you think about retiring, you should in this business,” White said. “He’s made a lot of money. He made a lot of money tonight. He’s got things outside the octagon going on too, like Conor [McGregor] does and some of these other guys, and I think he’s proved everything he needed to prove to himself. He changed his family’s life, and why not?”

As far as his outside-the-cage activities, Masvidal recently promoted an event under his Gamebred Boxing label that featured ex-UFC champion Anthony Pettis in the main event against Roy Jones Jr.

The card was carried across multiple formats, including UFC Fight Pass and pay-per-view, and it turns out White was one of the people who tuned in to see the event.

While he didn’t really enjoy seeing a 54-year-old Jones lose to Pettis by majority decision, the UFC president still found a lot to like based on what he saw from Masvidal’s promotion, which will likely become one of his priorities in retirement.

“I actually watched the fight,” White revealed. “I liked the undercard. The undercard had good fights. The other thing I was impressed by with them, they actually had good production. When you watch a small show like that, one thing you have to understand whether the production is good or not is how fast the replay comes. They were right on top of the replays. The replays came out fast. They did a damn good job with the production. I was impressed with it.

“The thing that I don’t like is 50 year olds fighting. It’s just not my thing, so the co-main [with Vitor Belfort and Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza] and the main. But the rest of the card — I mean, Jose Aldo and Jeremy Stephens was an awesome fight. I had fun watching the card.”

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