Jorge Masvidal’s stock skyrocketed in 2019, and the 48-fight veteran is likely next in line for a welterweight title shot as a result.
Last year, “Gamebred” earned victories over Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz to elevate himself to superstar status. The win over Till was an impressive second-round KO, but a backstage fracas with Leon Edwards where Masvidal delivered the now notorious “three piece with the soda” line drew as much attention as the victory itself. Next came a record-setting knockout of Askren at UFC 239, courtesy of a flying knee that ended the bout in just five seconds. Finally, Masvidal claimed the “BMF” belt with a bloody doctor stoppage of Diaz in the UFC 244 main event at Madison Square Garden.
Despite those accomplishments, Kamaru Usman thinks Masvidal might be a little overhyped. In fact, the reigning UFC welterweight champion isn’t sure if the Miami native is even a worthy No. 1 contender.
"If I'm being honest, do I believe that he deserves the fight next? No, I don't think that he deserves the fight,” Usman recently told TMZ Sports. “But at the same time, he's got the hype right now. Everyone is jumping on the hype train and this guy is drinking his own Kool-Aid.
"He seriously thinks he's a superstar. He's talking about how I'm the most famous fighter, I'm more famous than Conor [McGregor] and this and that. You are drinking your own Kool-Aid right now. He forgets that literally less than a year ago or two years ago he was just 'Journeyman George.' Now you lost some weight, did a little Spanish reality show and came back and now he thinks he's just Jacques Cousteau or something. My man, relax."
The “journeyman” label is a little harsh. Masvidal entered 2019 with notable Octagon triumphs over the likes of Donald Cerrone, Jake Ellenberger, Ross Pearson, Cezar Ferreira, James Krause, Michael Chiesa and Tim Means, to name a few. He also challenged for lightweight gold under the Strikeforce banner, losing a unanimous verdict to Gilbert Melendez in December 2011.
Still, there is no question that Masvidal peaked last year, and the timing can be key when it comes to earning a crack at UFC gold. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the promotion’s upcoming schedule is unclear. The UFC canceled its events through April 11, and while UFC 249 is still slated for the following week, no one is completely sure if that will go through as planned. Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White said earlier this year that Usman vs. Masvidal was being targeted for International Fight Week in July.
If the coronavirus outbreak hadn’t created so much uncertainty in the world, Usman is pretty confident he would have squared off with Masvidal this summer. At the moment, “The Nigerian Nightmare” is open to exploring options for a new venue if the outbreak has not slowed by July.
“Had this situation not happened, International Fight Week that fight was happening,” Usman said. “Dana said that’s what he wanted. Dana says that’s what he wants to do, chances are, those things get done. Make no mistake, that’s a blockbuster. That’s gonna be a main-event fight. It just depends on when they want to do it. If Dana is feeling froggy and we want to go to Africa to make this thing happen, then we’re gonna make it happen.”
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