As well as sparking the changing hands of UFC gold and one of the most memorable come-from-behind victories in promotional history, Leon Edwards’ UFC 278 head kick — which sent an unconscious Kamaru Usman to the Octagon floor in Utah — paved the way for some animosity between Cormier and Masvidal.
Latching onto pre-fight comments from the Englishman, among which he suggested a willingness to defend the belt against “Gamebred” in London, the Miami native called his shot post-UFC 278.
Addressing that, Cormier suggested that Edwards should “big league” Masvidal after years of dismissive responses to the Brit’s desire to exact revenge on the two-time title challenger for his backstage assault in 2019.
Those remarks led to a fiery exchange on Twitter, with Masvidal — or his manager Malki Kawa, if you ask Cormier — labeling the former champ-champ a “has been” and suggesting that he holds some sort of grudge over a rejected interview request.
The interaction caught significant attention on social media, with a number of high-profile names addressing Cormier and Masvidal’s disagreement.
Sharing a similar sentiment as Edwards’ coach, who insisted that “Gamebred” will be at the back of the line, ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto has questioned how anyone could stand behind Masvidal’s take over Cormier’s.
Okamoto: Masvidal Could’ve Fought Edwards Many Times
During a recent appearance on Submission Radio, Okamoto, who’s covered the sport of MMA for more than a decade, gave his take on the debate over Masvidal’s championship credentials.
Despite his appreciation for Masvidal as a mixed martial artist, Okamoto noted that he’s firmly on Cormier’s side, questioning how anyone could suggest that the #9-ranked contender is owed an opportunity given his form and past rejections of a bout with “Rocky.”
“I love Jorge Masvidal, man. I was like most hardcore MMA fans, I was a big-time Jorge fan before he turned in to Jorge Masvidal, you know? When nobody was really paying attention to this guy,” Okamoto said. “But I don’t think I’m stepping out on a limb here, I don’t know how you can’t take DC’s side on that.
“(Masvidal) sucker-punched Leon in London, and you can have any opinion you want on that, but he could’ve fought Leon a bunch of times and did not. He basically was forced into taking that fight with him at the end of last year (UFC 269), and then he couldn’t get there,” Okamoto continued. “If you’re gonna ignore the guy, ignore the guy, ignore the guy, and then all of a sudden something good happens to him and he’s like, ‘I’m gonna be this guy’s first title defense,’ like, it’s not gonna happen.”
With that in mind, Okamoto defended his ESPN broadcast colleague, suggesting that Cormier was dealing out facts rather than any sort of controversial opinion. The Las Vegas-based reporter also backed the idea that a victory over Gilbert Burns would likely secure Masvidal another shot at title glory inside the Octagon.
“I didn’t think DC was going after Jorge. He was just basically saying — he pointed out facts. Jorge hasn’t won much lately,” Okamoto noted. “Jorge hasn’t won much lately and he put off Leon numerous times… Colby did it, too. No one really wanted to fight Leon Edwards.
“Nothing’s really wrong with that. All of those guys are trying to make business decisions. But then to be like, ‘See you guys in London,’ I thought that was just like, ‘What?!’ No you won’t,” Okamoto added. “If he beats Gilbert Burns though… then I think he will get a title shot.”
While it seems inevitable that former champion and former pound-for-pound king Usman will be granted an immediate chance at redemption, Masvidal certainly doesn’t appear keen to back down.
Do you agree with Brett Okamoto’s take on Jorge Masvidal and Daniel Cormier’s disagreement?