By: Farah Hannoun |
January 5, 2020 12: 00 pm
The way Jorge Masvidal has turned his career around has been nothing short of remarkable.
It’s been so remarkable that he’s even a candidate for “Fighter of the Year” and “Knockout of the Year” in 2019. From going 1-2 in 2017, to not even competing in 2018, it’s been quite the breakout year for Masvidal.
His win over Donald Cerrone in January 2017 looked to be the beginning of a welterweight title run. It was his third win in a row and second straight stoppage. He handed Cerrone his first loss at welterweight.
But in his title eliminator fight against Demian Maia at UFC 211, Masvidal saw it all come crumbling down. He was edged out in a frustrating battle with Maia in which he had to try to fend off numerous choke attempts with Maia hanging on his back.
Masvidal got a big opportunity to bounce back on a massive stage at UFC 217 against two-time UFC welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson, but was outclassed over three rounds.
“Gamebred” disappeared for all of 2018. He took part in a Spanish-language reality TV show that seemed to rejuvenate him.
But 2019 marked the return of a focused and hungry Masvidal, and he tore through all his competition. Against highly-touted Brit and former 170-pound title challenger Darren Till in enemy territory, he was a betting underdog.
Early in Round 1, Masvidal was dropped, but that seemed to wake him up. He pushed forward with bad intentions and unleashed a flurry that bounced Till’s head off the canvas and silenced The O2 in London. Masvidal officially had arrived.
Then came undefeated former ONE Championship and Bellator welterweight titleholder Ben Askren, who made waves in the UFC early with his witty banter and mic skills. It was supposed to be a tough test for Masvidal, considering Askren’s wrestling background, but it only took a record-breaking five seconds for Masvidal to shut up the naysayers. He delivered a flying knee knockout for the ages.
It not only was the fastest knockout in UFC history, but arguably one of the greatest in MMA history.
Suddenly, Masvidal was one of the biggest stars in the UFC. Considering how long he’s been fighting, including his early years streetfighting in Kimbo Slice’s backyard, it seems crazy some people are only now coming around.
Masvidal added one more chapter to his great year when he faced fan favorite Nate Diaz for the newly-created “BMF” title.
In a war of dogs, as he liked to put it, it was all Masvidal from the opening bell. He looked like a man possessed and dropped Diaz with a brutal kick to the face while he poured it on. The ever-so-tough Diaz found a way to hang in there, but at the end of the third round, the cageside doctor stopped the fight due to a nasty gash suffered by Diaz.
It was not the ending anyone wanted to see, but shouldn’t take away from the flawless performance Masvidal put on. He showed his superior power and striking technique and was crowned the inaugural “BMF” champion.
Whether it’s a UFC welterweight title shot next, or another mega fight against the likes of Conor McGregor or Nick Diaz, big things are on the horizon for “Gamebred” in 2020 – and it’s all well deserved.
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MMA Junkie’s 2019 ‘Under-the-Radar Fighter of the Year’: Geoff Neal
MMA Junkie’s 2019 ‘Coach of the Year’: Eugene Bareman of City Kickboxing
MMA Junkie’s ‘Knockout of the Year’ for 2019: Jorge Masvidal’s flying knee