The 31-year-old Cuban street fighter turned UFC veteran is tired of being overlooked and views Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone as his ticket to the top.
It was nearly twenty years ago during “Gamebred’s” days in high school when he began street fighting. The reason behind what most would find absurd, is simple; he loved it. The thrill in competition was well worth the variety of risks that come with unsanctioned outdoor brawling. The money was the icing on the cake as it offered him the chance to indulge in McDonald’s for nearly a month.
Today, Masvidal embraces all facets of mixed martial arts, although his striking remains his bread and butter. Despite his impressive boxing and the dramatic development of his wrestling, Masvidal has been on the end of controversial losses, where the decisions haven’t always gone his way. Prior to jumping to the welterweight division last Summer, Masvidal lost a close bout against Al Iaquinta in a fight that Masvidal appeared to have let his foot of the gas after getting the better of his opponent. After making quick work in his UFC welterweight debut against Cezar Ferreira, Masvidal headlined his first UFC event opposite former UFC lightweight champion, Ben Henderson, but again suffered a split decision loss that could have gone in his favor.
Masvidal then suffered another loss against a potential contender in the division, Lorenz Larkin. Timing and MMA judges rarely ever appear to be on the Cuban’s side as seen in the numerous bouts against names like Dong Hyun Kim, Donald Cerrone, Bobby Green, Kelvin Gastelum, never coming to fruition. Victories over a notable name or two could have been the difference in the position Masvidal currently finds himself in. Of course he’d also have to be victorious against those notable names, but fortunately for Masvidal the biggest name to date and perhaps his toughest task awaits him in Colorado on January 28th against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
The fight presents an interesting challenge for both men, who could headline the UFC on Fox 23 event, which means it’d be scheduled for five rounds in the high altitude of Denver, Colorado. Cerrone is coming off a highlight reel headkick knockout of the durable Matt Brown eleven days ago, but he did suffer a knockdown in the back and forth fight. Masvidal is coming off a dominant, but controversial 1st round TKO against Jake Ellenberger a week before Cerrone’s victory. Next month’s bout presents a bigger risk for Cerrone, but for Masvidal it’s an opportunity he’s earned via his latest impressive performance and his relentless call out of one of the UFC’s most popular athletes.
Masvidal’s boxing similar to Nate Diaz, could prove to be the difference against Cerrone and judging by “Gamebred’s” confidence, he believes that will be the case. Win or lose, there is no doubt Masvidal is on the verge of a potential coming-out-party that could establish him as a household name and the timing could not be better considering he took relatively small damage in his last fight and will be accessible on network television. At the very least the UFC can build the always entertaining Masvidal into one of the few Hispanic UFC fighters fans can rely on to show up and do battle multiple times a year. Masvidal has expressed his desire to compete more than the usual two or three fights a year and has been more than willing to step up on short notice in order to accomplish the feat. Barring injury, this fight is a great way to start off the new year and could even pose as a fight of the year candidate.