Jorge Masvidal walked an unlikely path in combat sports, from unsanctioned brawls in the same steamy Miami boatyards that spawned Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson to the blazing limelight of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. His was a journey wrought with success, failure and everything in between.
Now 35 years of age and 48 fights into his professional career, Masvidal has positioned himself as the No. 1 contender at 170 pounds and the likely challenger for undisputed welterweight champion Kamaru Usman whenever the UFC resumes its schedule. The American Top Team export has rattled off three consecutive victories, all by finish against increasingly difficult opposition. Masvidal sports a 12-6 record in the UFC, his resume highlighted by wins over Darren Till, Donald Cerrone, Michael Chiesa, Tim Means and several other accomplished contemporaries.
In a career already full of defining moments, here are five that stand out:
1. A Glimpse of the Future
One of Masvidal’s early-career conquests has aged quite well upon further review. “Gamebred” put away the previously unbeaten Joe Lauzon—both men were 20 years old at the time—with punches in the second round of the Absolute Fighting Championships 12 main event on April 30, 2005 at the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Lauzon, who accepted the fight on less than a week’s notice, succumbed to blows 3:57 into Round 2. Masvidal nearly ended it inside the first few minutes, as he delivered a powerful slam that left his counterpart teetering on the brink of unconsciousness. Referee Troy Waugh for reasons that remain unclear paused the action briefly to warn “Gamebred” and afford Lauzon time to recover. Masvidal spent the rest of the first round outscrambling and outgrappling the Brockton, Massachusetts, native on the mat. Once the middle stanza commenced, a winded Lauzon had little to offer. Masvidal assumed top position, cued up his ground-and-pound and prompted the stoppage with a volley of unanswered punches. Both men later made their way to the UFC.