UFC on Fox 23: Masvidal Shines Bright

Jorge “Gamebred” entered tonight in enemy territory against the hometown kid, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and earned the biggest win of his career via TKO in round 2.

The question on who would be favored between the #12 ranked Masvidal and #5 ranked Cerrone, steered toward Cowboy, however the contest went Masvidal’s way after early minutes of a competitive bout between both respectable opponents. The story coming into the fight was whether or not Cerrone’s nightmare loss against the boxing style of Nate Diaz back in 2011 would be his undoing once more. Cerrone’s kickboxing style earned him three highlight reel finishes in his last three fights. His confidence at an all time high along with the crowd support paved the way for a possible storybook ending, but in MMA all that goes out the window.

Masvidal’s ability to land tight punches while absorbing some vicious sounding leg and body kicks as well as strong punches from Cerrone was impressive to say the least. Cerrone began the contest far more aggressive, which included a take down attempt, however Masvidal’s ability to pick his shots and remain patient paid off in what almost turned into a first round finish before referee Herb Dean stepped in as the bell rang. Cerrone’s legs remained shaky and he appeared concussed following the ground and pound sustained just seconds before. Cerrone’s best attempts to go back to using his kicks were not enough as his corner demanded head movement, but the writing was on the wall and fortunately Herb Dean stepped in a minute into the second round to stop the fight after another right hand dropped Cerrone.

Masvidal’s words following the win were directed towards UFC president Dana White betting $200,000 if White can find someone who can beat him. As Cerrone’s impressive stretch at welterweight came crashing down, Masvidal’s value has skyrocketed and thus a new contender at welterweight is born. The Colorado crowd voiced its displeasure towards “Gamebred” even before the fight began, but it didn’t stop the Jorge Masvidal coming out party from commencing.

Dana White has never been one to shy away from a challenge and as far as the rankings go, Masvidal is looking at # 6 ranked Lorenz Larkin, who defeated him via split decision last May. Larkin is currently testing the free agent market after his impressive first round TKO over Neil Magny at UFC 202 and it doesn’t appear the UFC is prioritizing his return. Carlos Condit sits at #4 and coming off a first round submission loss against Demian Maia. Condit has been contemplating retirement while also expressing interest in a rematch against Nick Diaz. It wouldn’t appear likely that Condit takes a high risk low reward bout against “Gamebred.” Enter Demian Maia, who has publicly stated that he intends to wait to fight the winner between UFC welterweight champ, Tyron Woodley and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Robbie Lawler is ranked #3 and has yet to return following his first round loss against Woodley and although he recently left Masvidal’s gym, American Top Team, it appears the two could be uninterested in facing off unless it is for the welterweight championship. Masvidal could be in line to fight Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson if he should lose his second attempt at a title shot. If Woodley was to lose his title, there is no certainty that both Woodley and Masvidal would fight since they too are teammates. The wildcard is someone like Nick Diaz, but with his huffing and puffing over only taking big fights, it’s unlikely to take place.

Jorge Masvidal’s options looking forward could mean he has to look down the ranking for his next opponent if he intends to make a quick return. Whatever happens next will undoubtedly be entertaining and violent as there is no other way Masvidal knows.

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