UFC 244: Jorge Masvidal talks surviving Miami street fights, needing to put 'dog' Nate Diaz down with KO

Sporting News

NEW YORK — Microphone in hand, Jorge Masvidal looked like a game show host as he invited contestants to come on down — or rather up. Once up on stage with him, Masvidal shook their hands and asked each individual to introduce himself to the crowd by their nicknames.

Then, “Gamebred” gave them a sliver of the street fighting element he cut his teeth in by handing them gloves. UFC officials got red in the face instantly, as the thoughts of liability and lawsuits certainly danced across their minds. To quell their worries, Masvidal instructed the fans “body shots only" during the impromptu scraps.

Wednesday’s public workout scene marked a far cry from the Miami underground street fighting circuit that Masvidal rose from. This was in the safe confines of the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, where fans knew they’d make it out safely and unharmed.

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Masvidal never had that luxury. Having your hand raised in a Miami street fight didn’t always mean the scrap was over. Sometimes, it was just the beginning of the chaos to come.

Masvidal knows this all too well.

“Super dangerous,” Masvidal told Sporting News during the UFC 244 media day scrum Thursday, referring to the underground scene in which he first earned a name for himself fighting. “That’s a part that I probably didn’t like in some ways because you just don’t know who has a gun or knife or who’s upset.

“I had incidents where guys got slick and it got handled because it wasn’t like it was just me by myself, obviously,” he continued. “There were guys there doing their part in it as well to make sure that the quarterback — or whatever you want to call me at the time — was taken care of.”

By “taken care of,” Masvidal means shielded enough to live another day, fight another fight. That was the real victory on the Miami street fighting circuit that “Gamebred” frequented as a young man.

The late Kimbo Slice, the man who brought Masvidal into Miami backyard fighting, would do his part to make sure that post-fight extracurricular activities were curbed as well.

“Kimbo was amazing at making sure the fight stayed the fight,” Masvidal said. “He shut that down quick and not only was Kimbo intimidating, but everybody in Miami knows you (didn't) want to f—k with him or his peoples.

“Kimbo was amazing at squashing all beefs,” he added. “We got in there to scrap man to man and then after that, ‘Yo, shake hands, it’s over.’ He was like the sensei of that f—g realm and he was a hell of a sensei.”

That was just a snapshot of what it took for Masvidal to walk out of a street fight in the 305 safely.

Headlining UFC 244 against Nate Diaz with the inaugural “Baddest Motherf—” title on the line, Masvidal knows what he needs to do to exit Madison Square Garden on Saturday night safely as well … and with the BMF strap in tow.

It’s something that has never been done to Diaz (20-11) in 31 pro fights, but Masvidal (34-13) seems hell-bent on trying to prove that a “Dirty South goon” is badder than a “West Coast gangster.”

How? Well, by “baptizing” Diaz, as he calls it, in the form of knocking him out cold.

“A guy like Nate, definitely,” Masvidal told SN about a KO being the main way he could have his hand raised against such a forward-fighting warrior Saturday night. “You don’t want to let that guy hang out at any moment. You might be beating him up for four rounds, you’re taking him down and he’s still game in it. He wraps around your neck. You could take his legs off as we’ve seen — the guy’s just still coming.

“He’s literally, the best way to describe him is he’s a fighting dog,” he continued, “and fighting dogs, the only way to take care of them is to put him down.”

The closest anyone came to doing that was Josh Thomson back in April 2013, when he dropped Diaz with a head kick and pummeled him with punches until the referee stepped in to stop the action during the second round of that fight.

Masvidal wants to skip the ref’s input altogether and sleep Diaz in what's expected to be a fight played out on the feet and in the pocket with neither man backing up an inch.

Such a result would skyrocket Masvidal’s star power and further his momentum after recording the fastest KO in UFC history with his evisceration of Ben Askren in five seconds via a savage flying knee this past July.

Coming off that type of otherworldly win and defeating Diaz to become the BMF title owner would most likely leave the 34-year-old with options he has never had.

Perhaps Conor McGregor would inject himself into the fray and want a piece of “Gamebred” in what would be a “notorious” fight to say the least.

Maybe the UFC would opt to pair Masvidal with Kamaru Usman.

And then there’s former friend Colby Covington, who Masvidal spent a chunk of his media day scrum blasting.

“He sees me, security comes, coaches grab him, they put him away,” Masvidal told a pool of reporters about Covington. “They got me training in a separate room. He doesn’t say a word to me. I f—k with him all the time because I’m the type of guy that, if you say something right now, whenever I see you, I’m going to hold you to that.”

Masvidal added that he could make it a lot more difficult for Covington to move around in Miami if he wanted to.

“This is my city and I’m very polite to him,” Masvidal started explaining. “In the snap of a finger, I could have five cars packed to the teeth with individuals to make sure he never comes back. I don’t want to do that. I want to handle it man to man. He won’t give me that. I just really want to talk to him and tell him ‘What is your f—g problem.”

Any of the aforementioned three fighters would make for an intriguing next matchup for Masvidal if he gets past Diaz — especially in the fashion he wants to dispose of the Stockton, Calif. native.

If the Askren knockout was his liftoff, a Diaz KO would mark his coronation as the official BMF.

But some would say surviving the Miami street fighting scene stamped him as the certified BMF, already.

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