Former UFC welterweight title challenger Jorge Masvidal knows where he needs to improve if he wants to claim gold before his career is done.
Masvidal, 37, fought for the title back-to-back against champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 and UFC 261, but came up short in both bouts. Former interim champion and friend-turned-bitter-rival Colby Covington was his next opponent, and the result was the same.
Both opponents possess an aspect of fighting that Masvidal candidly admits on Logan Paul’s podcast that he needs to put more focus into going forward if he ever wants to become champion.
“The same thing with him that’s the Colby problem: wrestling,” Masvidal said on a recent episode of IMPAULSIVE when asked how he could get past Usman in the future. “First fight, just put me up against the fence and I wasn’t able to f*ckin’ let go. The second fight, I’m thinking it’s a takedown after takedown after takedown. I was doing well stuffing the takedowns, and then boom, switched it up on me.”
It’s no secret that Masvidal is a striker who has built his fame off highlight-reel finishes of opponents throughout his UFC tenure. In an outlier performance against Tim Means in 2013, Masvidal recorded six takedowns, the most of his UFC career. Over the 20 fights that have followed, “Gamebred” only brought his opponents to the mat a total of 11 times.
Regardless of the approach for those fights, Masvidal admits if he plans on getting past Covington or Usman, he must tighten up his wrestling game. He even said he would mix it up on the mats with the man he virally knocked out in seconds, Ben Askren, in order to level up his game.
“I definitely feel the consistent problem that I have throughout my career is my wrestling is not 100 percent there yet,” Masvidal said. “It’s pretty damn good. It’s a lot better than when I f*ckin’ first started, and sh*t, I’ve got another two, three years in this sport. Why not f*ckin’ give everything I got into this wrestling sh*t, see what comes out of it?”
Even though he’s in the twilight of his storied career that was sparked in backyard fistfights alongside the late Kimbo Slice, Masvidal points to the success of Glover Teixeira, who continued to elevate his game to win UFC gold at 42 years of age. With the right approach, Masvidal believes there’s a path to defeating Usman, should he still be the man holding the title when he gets back in position for another title shot.
“I know he’s beatable,” Masvidal said about Usman. “There’s not a man alive that’s not beatable. Taking the second round out of it, the first round after I got up, I started landing some big shots on him. The second knee – the first knee I threw he took me down, the second knee I hit him with right here on the chest and my thigh hit him in the jaw, wobbled him a little bit. On the feet, he’s nothing special. He might have got me, but he’s nothing special on the feet. He’s not like a legit striker on the feet yet.”
Improving his wrestling is one hurdle to clear, but there are some issues outside of the cage that must be settled as well, likely before competing again. Masvidal was arrested in Miami after allegedly punching Covington in the face outside of a restaurant a few weeks after their UFC 272 bout. He faces one count of aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm and one count of criminal mischief. Although he spoke on various topics during the podcast with Paul, this topic was avoided.