Five measly seconds. That’s all it took for Miami’s own Jorge Masvidal to knock out Ben Askren. A delicious mix of raw violence and shock that will probably go down as one of the biggest UFC moments of all time. The victory felt right, it felt like what should happen happened. Masvidal sent Askren to the graveyard where he’ll meet Luke Rockhold (a regular) and Amanda Nunes’ latest victim Holly Holm.
Funky robbed us of the glorious return of the ruthless one and was punished for it, the MMA gods are now satisfied. Jorge’s press conference didn’t disappoint either, as he introduced the term “extremely necessary” to the MMA world (the casuals will love it), he took advantage of the moment in the best way possible and probably put himself in the running for an imminent title shot against current king-pin; Kamaru Usman. Jorge managed to climb up the rankings, and in doing so seduced over a lot of curious people who probably didn’t think much of MMA, his knock out went viral and his attitude during the press conference was applauded by the masses. Jorge Masvidal’s victory at UFC 239 means a lot more than that though. I’m going to try and explain why.
We all know the story, Masvidal is a hustler, a grinder, a backyard brawler, a midnight rambler who became one of the best fighters on the planet. It’s inspiring but he is much more complex as a fighter than most people seem to understand. As an “analyst” he has always been an enigma for me. The most important thing that you look for in a good striker is his ability to set traps for his opponent and avoid the ones set against him, Masvidal has that in him. You can see that in his most recent fight against Till, that finishing sequence was a great work of deception and leaves no chance to the poor defense of the scouser. Or his wonderful body work against the very skilled Donald Cerrone. But what always impressed me the most about Masvidal was his striking defense, and that became his main problem.
See, Masvidal has had some wonderful performances before 2019, but his main problem for a long time was his frustrating tendency to wait too much offensively. He was always a defensively sound striker, but he would just do enough to lose a close decision and then bitch about it in the post-fight interview, the best example being the Al Iaquinta fight. Even his loss at UFC 217 to Wonderboy was frustrating, not because he couldn’t find an answer to a tricky fighter, but because he was just not doing enough, not giving everything. But no matter the highs and lows, the only constant about Masvidal has been his attitude. He fits well in the MMA world because he’s “real” what you see is what you get.
MMA to me is probably the purest form of raw violence that we can broadcast on live television and this crazy sport allows personalities like Masvidal to thrive and doesn’t filter their thoughts. But how will the world react to that?
We live in an era in which you can watch MMA on ESPN, this is crazy and people don’t seem to realize how unattainable this goal seemed years ago.
Jorge Masvidal isn’t going to give a “good image of the sport” he isn’t going to be wearing suits during interviews and go on Jimmy Fallon, but we love him because he doesn’t have to. I was scared to see MMA go mainstream up until I realize that as cringe as Dana saying “fighting is in our DNA” in every single UFC promo is, he’s right. We love violence whether we admit it or not and this sport brings it to us on a silver platter every weekend.
Jorge Masvidal will never be Conor McGregor or GSP, he isn’t going to be a star that will carry the UFC on its back. But maybe MMA doesn’t need to be carried anymore. He can be himself inside the octagon and in front of the cameras as much as he wants because that attitude is the soul of that violent sport that we all love. He might never reach the ultimate goal that the belt represents but now Jorge Masvidal undoubtedly matters. It’s very nostalgic to look back on his first appearances in Kimbo’s videos and then look at what he achieved, because he carries that feeling that I had the first time I ever stayed up late at night to watch a fight live. And just for that, thank you Jorge.