After a trio of memorable victories in 2019 and a rapid rise to stardom, Masvidal held the ceremonial ‘BMF’ title and was seen as a serious threat to the 170-pound throne. Now three fights later and “Gamebred” is on the biggest losing skid of his career and outside the divisional top five.
The one thing that’s stalled his charge towards gold in the welterweight division? Wrestling…
In his first championship challenge at UFC 251 in 2020, Masvidal was thoroughly controlled for five rounds by Kamaru Usman. After a brutal knockout in their rematch last April, the Miami native’s grappling flaws were on display once more last month at UFC 272.
Against arch-rival Colby Covington, the now-#8 contender was comfortably beaten on the scorecards due to the much-superior wrestling game of “Chaos.” With the main hole in his game clear to see, “Gamebred” is focusing on how he can plug it.
During a recent appearance on Logan Paul’s Impaulsive podcast, Masvidal insisted his hunger to succeed in the cage hasn’t dissipated, and that he just needs to address the singular issue he believes is preventing him from fulfilling his goals.
When asked what he plans on doing to resolve his deficiencies in the wrestling department, the 37-year-old’s response included a potential trip to Pennsylvania and a schedule comprising of wrestling, wrestling, and more wrestling.
“There’s different ways to go about it, but the best program in the country currently for the last 10 years is Penn State,” said Masvidal. “I got some good friends over there, so I’m gonna go spend some time in Pennsylvania, just wrestle in the morning, wrestle at night, and stay doing that. Because I don’t feel like I have to work on my boxing—not to be cocky—for any time. It’s there in my system. I just gotta sharpen it up before the fight. So one of my main plans right now is go wrestle, man, day and night and see what comes out of it…
“I don’t know how long that gym’s gonna take me,” Masvidal continued. “I don’t know if I’m gonna go over there six months, I don’t know if I’m gonna go over there six weeks that I get that breakthrough, but I know it’ll come from just being in there. That’s my plan.”
When the idea of a potential intervention from former opponent and wrestling extraordinaire Ben Askren was mentioned, Masvidal laughed and jokingly asked for the retired mixed martial artist’s hourly rate.
“Ben, if you’re hearing this, what’s up? I can hire you, buddy! [LAUGHS] How much are your private lessons an hour, bud?”
Masvidal and Askren shared the Octagon back at UFC 239 in 2019. After some heated back and forth during fight week, the anticipation was high for their collision. After just five seconds, the bout was over and “Gamebred” had made history by recording the fastest knockout in UFC history.
While the former Bellator and ONE champion believes he’d have utilized his wrestling to comfortably dispatch Masvidal had he not been the victim of a freak KO, “Gamebred” seemingly begs to differ.
Masvidal Would Love To Wrestle Askren: ‘I’d Slam Him On His Neck’
Drifting away from jest, Masvidal provided a serious response to the idea of improving his ground game with the help of Askren, admitting he’d love to go toe-to-toe with “Funky” on the mats.
“You know, I would actually love to wrestle with Ben in a competition. No, like straight wrestling, I would do it,” said Masvidal. I’m gonna go sharpen up my tools. I mean, he is a two-time national champion, Olympic alternate. I would definitely fuckin’ do it. I would grapple him for some monetary value.”
While he went on to credit Askren’s abilities on the ground, Masvidal suggested he firmly has the edge when it comes to speed and reflexes. With that in mind, “Gambred” believes he’d “slam him on his head” before Askren would have the chance to take a potential match to the ground.
“He’s a better wrestler than me, undisputedly. But I am 10 times the athlete that guy will ever be,” claimed Masvidal. “Like, speed, power, all that shit…with the fast-twitch muscles, with the reflexes, he’s not that guy. Now when it comes to the scrambling, positioning, and endurance, he’s fuckin’ phenomenal. As much as I can’t stand his ass, he didn’t win those two national championships for nothing. He can scramble and he has, in some departments, unlimited endurance.
“But shit, if I prepared for him for a five-minute match, I’m at least slamming him on his head twice,” added Masvidal. “I’ll pick his ass up. He can’t stop me from picking him up. Now when we hit the ground, shit could be a little different, but I’ll slam him on his head at least twice, man.”
Askren hasn’t been in action since a defeat to YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul in the boxing ring last year. Perhaps the chance to exact revenge on Masvidal in his wrestling wheelhouse could entice him back to action…
How do you think a wrestling match between Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren would play out?