Street-fighter integrity is a rare quality these days. As made clear this past Saturday in London, England, Jorge Masvidal stands alone in the UFC as a bearer of that flag.
As fellow welterweight Leon Edwards now understands, Jorge Masvidal’s code is simple. It’s one that repays disrespect with confrontation, and rejects bluster with fisticuffs. In the words of former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, Masvidal is “just ‘bout that action.”
But Masvidal’s backyard ethos isn’t solely about righting wrongs done unto him. For the one they call “Gamebred,” it’s really about sincerity. Both Masvidal and his opponent, Liverpool native Darren Till, entered their main-event-spotlight free from pretense. Till wanted Masvidal’s head, and Masvidal wasn’t going to let that happen.
Watching Masvidal study Till during Dan Hardy’s “UFC Face Off” interview exposed in his eyes the spark of a true scrapper. And Masvidal delighted to observe in his opponent the same attribute. A steady stream of low-key banter flowed back and forth from Till to Masvidal. However, all of it was respectful, genuine, and thus, terrifying. And on fight night, both strikers backed up their threatening promises with heavy hands and wicked grins.
Toughness in the Cage
Every time Till hit his target, Masvidal wagged his tongue and beckoned his opponent closer. Whenever Masvidal connected a flurry to the Scouser’s face, Till responded with aggressive head nodding and open palms.
Of course, in the third minute of round two, Till ran out of replies. He was starched and flattened by three successive Masvidal left-hooks. Each one landing at different points of Till’s backwards trajectory to the canvas.
In the immediate wake of his stunning upset, Masvidal calmly walked away from the scene of the sanctioned crime. A moment later, his body tensed and exploded with aggressive delight. Masvidal understood what it meant for his career and MMA legacy to defeat Darren Till in London. What Masvidal didn’t understand is that he still had three more punches left to throw that night.
During a post-fight backstage interview, Masvidal punched Edwards in the face with the now infamous “3 piece with the soda” combination. The best way to understand the energy behind what happened, and why it happened, is to watch the ESPN footage posted on YouTube. You’ll see Masvidal, mid-interview, distracted by a distant voice. He utters words, approaches a man in the shadows, and rights some wrongs.
And the more we hear from Masvidal (who is not interested in rehashing the Edwards incident as it overshadows his tremendous victory over Till), the more we see his true spirit shine. Masvidal is a special dude with zero falseness. He aspires to live a peaceful life surrounded by genuine people while wearing UFC gold around his waist.
The man who coolly strutted through the O2 Arena to music from the 1983 motion picture Scarface doesn’t concern himself with the frivolous preoccupations of modern society. He recently scrubbed his world clean of distractions like TV and social media (though he was active online in the immediate aftermath of his victory over Darren Till). But he told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that he “doesn’t like phones and such.”
Masvidal is more focused on providing for his family, living “like a man,” and getting into a sanctioned scrap for cash-money. He has even criticized fighters for barking out unofficial challenges, arguing he’s an example of the well-worn trope known as a “prize fighter.”
However, as Masvidal’s post-fight altercation proved, the American Top Team standout can always summon the ethos burned into his psyche from years of bare knuckle fighting in Miami backyards. If you threaten Masvidal with action, he will respond with action. But, if you act like a man in the presence of a man, there will be peace.
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