Ahead of one of the biggest grudge matches in UFC history this weekend, we revisit Jorge Masvidal’s incredible 2019 as he produced three straight victories that sparked a remarkable rise.
'Gamebred' will meet former teammate Colby Covington in the UFC 272 main event in Las Vegas.
With six of his 12 UFC wins coming via KO/TKO, bet365 have priced Masvidal at 15/4 to defeat Colby Covington via KO, TKO, DQ or Submission.
The years leading into 2019
From going 1-2 in 2017, to not even competing in 2018, 'Gamebred' entered 2019 with 13 MMA losses on his record and a ‘journeyman’ tag that he was unable to shift.
Having handed Donald Cerrone his first loss at welterweight in January 2017, Masvidal saw it all come crumbling down by the end of the year, losing a title eliminator to Demian Maia at UFC 211 before being outclassed by Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson at UFC 217.
'Gamebred' subsequently disappeared for all of 2018. Unable to find a willing opponent, he decided to take part in a Spanish-language reality TV show, which appeared to revitalise his career.
2019 marked the return of a willing Jorge Masvidal and he would go on to ensure that he cemented his legacy over the coming 12 months.
The statement victory over Darren Till
In March, he battled Darren Till in the main event of UFC Fight Night in London, entering enemy territory as the betting underdog.
Despite being rocked by the 'Gorilla' in the opening 15 seconds of the fight, 'Gamebred' recovered quickly and wrestled his way back up to get on his feet.
Till dominated the early stages of the bout and even secured a late takedown to clinch the first round, but that only seemed to wake Masvidal up.
Half-way through round two, 'Street Jesus' unleashed a barrage of shots on Till and connected with a swinging left hand that left the O2 Arena in complete silence.
A second Fight of the Night and third Performance of the Night bonus awards followed for Masvidal, who had finally arrived in the UFC.
Fastest UFC KO in history
Next up for Masvidal was the undefeated former ONE Championship and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren who was making a big impression in the early stages of his UFC career with debut victory over Robbie Lawler.
The build-up to UFC 239 was intense and many fans thought that the 19-0 unbeaten Askren’s wrestling would prove to be too much for Masvidal to handle.
'Gamebred' had other ideas.
Five seconds into the fight, Masvidal silenced the naysayers, as he sprinted out of the blocks and delivered a flying knee KO for the ages.
Not only was it the fastest KO in UFC history, it was arguably one of the most impressive in the history of the sport.
“It’s been an amazing journey. 16 years I’ve been in this sport at this level. Ben (Askren) was talking wild – I had to show him there’s consequences sometimes.”
The BMF title fight against Nate Diaz
Before the year closed, Masvidal ensured that he would add one final chapter to his unbelievable 12 months as he faced Nate Diaz in a battle to be crowned the inaugural 'BMF' champion.
In a fight between two veterans of the sport, Masvidal dominated from the opening bell, dropping Diaz with a heavy kick to the face in the process.
As ever, the Stockton-born fighter found a way to hang in the fight, but at the end of round three, the doctor stopped the bout due to a cut suffered by Diaz.
Gamebred produced a masterclass as he landed clean and powerful shots for three straight rounds, ending 2019 by becoming the UFC’s first-ever 'BMF' champion.
From his early days fighting in the backyard of 'Kimbo Slice', to losing six of his first 15 UFC bouts, 'Gamebred's’ 2019 was nothing short of spectacular and he had finally achieved superstar status in the sport of MMA.
The following years
In July 2020, Jorge Masvidal cemented his ‘BMF’ status when, on six days’ notice, he stepped up to face Kamaru Usman in Abu Dhabi, replacing Gilbert Burns who missed the bout through illness.
Having been confirmed as the cover star of the UFC 4 video game, Gamebred then flew 7,831 miles from Miami to Yas Island, Abu Dhabi to compete for the welterweight title after months of feuding with Usman.
Despite a fast start, the fight went the way of the Nigerian Nightmare, who dominated Masvidal and was given a unanimous win by all three judges, 50-45, 50-45, 49-46.
In April 2021, the pair ran it back in a fight that saw ‘Street Jesus’ baptised. Early in round two, Usman caught Masvidal with a perfect right hand, becoming the first fighter in history to defeat ‘Gamebred’ via KO.
After the fight, the 36-year-old admitted the better man won on the night.
“It hurts. I’ve never been knocked out in 54 professional fights. All the props to Kamaru Usman, he’s got my number. He won this fair and square.”
Following two defeats to the #1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Masvidal, now aged 37, has turned his focus to a personal fight against former best friend, Colby Covington.
From teammates at American Top Team, to best friends, to bitter enemies, two of the top contenders in the welterweight division will settle it finally at the T-Mobile Arena.