Jorge Masvidal (34-13), who’s endured one of the rockiest roads to the top of the sport, finally on Saturday seemed to have punched his ticket to a title shot following his record-breaking five second knockout of Ben Askren (19-1, 1 NC). The win marked Masvidal’s second finish of 2019 following more than a year and a half away from the Octagon due in part to a stint on Telemundo’s “Exatlón Estados Unidos” last summer. Let’s have a look back at the wild career of one of the most talked about fighters in MMA.
Beginnings as a Streetfighter
Many can recall a young Jorge Masvidal getting his shot against the man known as “Ray”, trained at the time by legendary streetfighter turned mixed martial artist Kimbo Slice in 2008. At the time Masvidal was already five years into his professional MMA career and sported an impressive 14-2 record with wins over the likes of Joe Lauzon and Yves Edwards with one of his losses a decision to future UFC bantamweight contender Raphael Assunção.
In baggy denim shorts, long hair in a bun, Masvidal weaves in and out avoiding Ray’s strikes. A late flurry in front of a packed backyard crowd sealed the win for the then 23-year old “Gamebred”.
Headlining Bellator 1
At 16-3, and having already competed under the Bodog Fight and Strikeforce banners, Masvidal was thrust into the main event of Bellator’s inaugural card on April 3, 2009 that boasted such talent as Joe Soto, Tomy Imada, Eddie Alvarez and Jon Anik on the broadcast. The Lightweight Tournament Quarterfinal proved to be another stepping stone in the young career of the Miami-born fighter who took home a first round TKO finish over Nick Agallar to cap off the evening.
Masvidal would then go on to face Toby Imada at Bellator 5, losing by third round inverted triangle and end his tenure with the promotion following a 160 lbs catchweight bout with Eric Reynolds, earning a third round rear-naked choke win.
Strikeforce Lightweight Title Challenge
Befitting on a night where TUF Season 1 winner Diego Sanchez squared off with Season 15 winner Michael Chiesa, Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Melendez featured in high profile bouts of their own, seven and a half years after their Strikeforce lightweight title fight. Melendez featured a 19-2 record at the time, riding a five fight win streak including his title win over Shinya Aoki and first round defense over Tatsuya Kawajiri.
The fight was largely dominated by the champ, resulting in a unanimous decision win for Melendez (50-45, 50-45, 49-46). Masvidal would go on to compete once more under the Strikeforce banner earning a split decision win over Justin Wilcox before the promotion was acquired by the UFC.
UFC Tenure: 2013-Present
Stints at welterweight and lightweight have seen “Gamebred” compile an 11-6 record in the Octagon since joining the organization in 2013. Wins against the likes of Michael Chiesa, Donald Cerrone and most recently finishes over Darren Till and Ben Askren have shot the Floridian into title contention and social media stardom. Although the main event scheduled for UFC on ESPN 5: Covington vs. Lawler was thought to produce the next title challenger at 170 lbs, the sheer manner in which Masvidal was able to finish previously unbeaten Ben Askren, and for that matter former title challenger Till have afforded Masvidal the chance to jump the line and face current champ Kamaru Usman later on in 2019.