By Edward Vickers
Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal describes it as The Resurrection. It began on Saturday 16th March 2019, when the UFC roadshow came to London’s sold-out O2 Arena.
This was the eleventh time the world’s biggest MMA company has headed to England. Over sixteen thousand fans, including myself, boomed out the words to Sweet Caroline in anticipation for the star Darren Till to put away the ninth-ranked contender.
How wrong we were, and not just fans, bookies had Masvidal as a +200 (2/1) underdog to get the victory. What happened that night was a surprise to everyone but Jorge, who despite not having fought in sixteen months predicted triumph confidently in the pre-fight build-up.
“My hand is raised. Everything goes well, [the] fight ends quick”
Gamebred announced during the filming for the UFC Face Off show. And he was right; three minutes into the second round Jorge landed a left that silenced the crowd and sent shockwaves through the welterweight division.
At the time I had no idea just how special this former street fighter was, and that enduring grit showed to be in his genes. Masvidal is the son of a father whose life story plays like a Hollywood movie, escaping communist Cuba by means of a makeshift raft.
But Jorge’s story in the years prior to 2019 is largely overlooked. Littered with blood, sweat, and losses he was written off and his sixteen-year professional fighting career was at risk of petering out.
Underwhelming decision defeats to Demian Maia at UFC 211 and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at UFC 217 resulted in Jorge taking the risky step to put his fight career on hold and join Telemundo’s ‘Exatlon Estados Unidos’. A reality television show that would last three months in a survivor style back to basics competition.
The time away from the noise of everyday life proved to be worth it. In the Dominican Republic, Jorge was able to rejuvenate as he explains when interviewed by Ariel Helwani.
“I just got to hear my own voice and what I want [to be] done in my life before I close the chapter on fighting.”
Its with this mindset, Gamebred headed to London.
Since the Till fight, Masvidal has gone from a little known fighter to an all-out star. A knee to Ben Askren’s skull earned him the fastest knock out in UFC history (5 seconds) and KO of the year.
By defeating fan favorite Nate Diaz in the UFC 244 headliner in Madison Square Garden, he had the BMF belt presented to him by none other than The Rock inside the octagon. All of which culminated in him deservedly being the 2019 Fighter of the Year. Not bad for a guy some considered to be a journeyman before UFC London.
This journey is why the completion of The Resurrection with a victory on Fight Island is bigger than the Welterweight title. Sometimes a moment in sport transcends and becomes something more, much more. With forty-eight professional fights over seventeen years, on Saturday Jorge Masvidal will set the record for having the highest number of fights before getting a shot at a UFC title.
Because Masvidal represents every one of us who has been fighting to be a success in their chosen field for more years than they’d care to remember. This represents the notion that it’s never too late and proves that the inspirational quotes are more than just clichés. Hard work and perseverance pay off and Masvidal can be living proof of this with a win over Usman.
If underdog Jorge defies the odds once again remember this; the next time you face adversity, lean against the cage in your mind with your hands behind your back and smile. It might take a while but after almost two decades Masvidal won the belt. Each and every one of us is capable of deciding our own fate and going through with our own “resurrection”