Jorge Masvidal is the hottest name in mixed martial arts at the moment and he’s using the time in the spotlight wisely.
Fresh off his record-setting UFC 239 knockout of Ben Askren, Masvidal now has his sights set on another marquee matchup the next time he steps into the Octagon – either a title fight against welterweight champion Kamaru Usman or a tilt with superstar Conor McGregor.
“I want to break his face,” Masvidal said of McGregor during a Thursday appearance on The Dan LeBatard Show. “I think that’s an easy paycheque. He’s got these cash symbols written all over his face for me. I just don’t see it going his way if I’m honest with you.”
Masvidal has been a respected figure in the MMA and combat sports worlds dating all the way back to when he was featured in those infamous Kimbo Slice street fight videos from the early aughts.
The 34-year-old’s star power has never shone brighter than it has in 2019, though, as Masvidal all of a sudden finds himself as one of the biggest names in the sport thanks to a pair of violent knockout wins plus some extracurricular activity.
It began in March when he KO’d Darren Till in England, then proceeded to cut fellow 170-pound contender Leon Edwards open during a backstage altercation with a punch combo he later affectionately called a “three piece with a soda.”
His popularity continued to grow after he signed on to fight Askren, who was undefeated in MMA and considered one of the more entertaining talkers on the UFC roster.
The two traded insults in the media in the lead-up to the fight before Masvidal beat Askren in the most spectacular way possible – a flying knee less than five seconds into the opening round – and emerged from UFC 239 with some clout among mainstream sports fans.
Dwight Howard Doc Rivers Khabib Usman
— UFC (@ufc) July 11, 2019
Usman, who beat Tyron Woodley by decision at UFC 235 to win the title, is recovering from a recent hernia surgery and his next opponent is yet to be determined. His first challenger could emerge from the upcoming Colby Covington vs. Robbie Lawler matchup, considering Covington won an interim belt in 2018 and Lawler is a respected former champ.
Masvidal is officially the No. 3-ranked contender at 170 pounds behind Woodley and Covington, respectively.
“He’s got the title and that’s what I want but he’s always having injuries and things are happening,” Masvidal said of a possible fight with Usman.
Masvidal has never been tied to McGregor until now, but said the former two-division champion “interests me because it’s just a fight that if we made it, it’s going to sell a lot and I’m going to get the money that I deserve and you can see you put me in there in a fight and I’m going to fight. I’m going to give you what the fans want. I’ve never pulled out of a fight.”
McGregor’s most recent fight was when he lost his UFC lightweight title to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. The Irish superstar is a natural 155-pounder but has competed at welterweight twice in the UFC against Nate Diaz.
UFC president Dana White has said he expects McGregor to return at some point in 2019, but nothing is guaranteed.
“He’s tapped a couple times so that’s backing down in my book,” Masvidal said of McGregor. “It’s something I’ve never done and I feel like I’d break him. It would be an easy fight. It just means more money, more fans and then fight for the title. Either one of them (McGregor or Usman) makes sense to me.”
Masvidal’s 34-13 professional record doesn’t jump off the page, but 10 of his losses have been via decision and five of them were split decisions, many of the controversial variety.
The Miami native said those split decisions hit him really hard and he made the conscious effort to set himself apart and “find the formula that sets me apart, not in the split decision manner but in the devastating ‘I just baptized you’ manner. That’s all I’m focused on is separating myself from the pack as much as possible.”
His wins over Till and Askren and now his call-out of McGregor are great ways to do so.
“I just want to fight the best guys that there is in the world and make the most money out of it because I’m finally in the position after 16 years [fighting professionally],” Masvidal added.