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A look at the background of Jorge Masvidal before his return to UFC 287


Jorge Masvidal makes his long-awaited return to the octagon as he faces Gilbert Burns at UFC 287 on Saturday night.

Gamebred hasn’t set foot in the cage since losing by unanimous decision to welterweight contender Colby Covington in March last year.

However, it would be foolish to disqualify Masvidal, who has managed to create a legacy based on his willingness to share a cage with anyone and his determination to win.

Forged from backyard fights in Miami-Dade County, Masvidal’s stand has seen him clash with UFC stars in and out of the Octagon for years now.

And so, here, Sportsmail takes a look at the amazing background behind the 38-year-old ahead of his imminent return to the UFC.

Jorge Masvidal makes his long-awaited return to the UFC octagon at this weekend’s event

Street fight

If you’ve been a fan of the UFC for a while and are familiar with Jorge Masvidal, his history with street fighting shouldn’t come as a shock.

The American often claimed that his passion for mixed martial arts kept him from a life of crime and this was certainly true in his early fighting days.

Prior to his fame in the UFC, Masvidal would engage in backyard fights in neighborhoods across Miami to try and make some extra money.

In an interview with The Sun last year, he revealed: ‘We’ve been placing bets and bets, you know. My friend will put in 500 dollars to see if the other party wants to pay 500 dollars.

“Things like that, not to brag but it wasn’t cool money, man.” It was nothing. It was more for the trip.

It was definitely a ride for Masvidal, who ended up calling him a fight in the backyard of martial artist Kimbo Slice.

Slice, who died in July 2016, built a reputation by hosting brawls in his backyard, posting them to YouTube and gaining thousands of views.

It was a huge moment in Masvidal’s fighting career that he couldn’t refuse.

Speaking of the opportunity, he told The Sun: ‘It was crazy, one day he was like, ‘Hey, do you want to come fight at my show, in my backyard?’ And I was like, “Holy smoke, this is crazy, man.”

The American fighter (R) made a name for himself with backyard fights across Miami

The American fighter (R) made a name for himself with backyard fights across Miami

His most notable street fight came in Kimbo Slice's backyard, where he picked up a TKO victory

His most notable street fight came in Kimbo Slice’s backyard, where he picked up a TKO victory

“This is the same guy who’s got all these crazy opinions, he’s kicking people out, dying them, and giving me a chance?”

One of Masvidal’s most notorious fights, from the period, was his brawl with a 200 pound protected Slice named “Ray”.

Masvidal was by far the smaller fighter but it proved irrelevant as he unleashed a series of brutal blows on Ray and won the match.

This led to the beginning of a fruitful fighting career for Masvidal, although it was not without some hardship prior to this.

Just last year, America’s top team MMA coach Mike Brown shared an old photo of Masvidal that showed how he was fighting for food.

In the photo, Masvidal holds a sign that reads: “Hungry!! Will fight for food!! Backyards, UFC, Kentucky. Show me a$$$!!

It’s almost surreal looking back on the photo, as Brown’s comment rightly suggests that Masvidal is “now one of the sport’s absolute biggest PPV spots”.

Masvidal's longtime coach recently shared a photo of the fighter with a banner displaying the words:

Masvidal’s old trainer recently shared a photo of the fighter with a banner displaying the words: “Hungry!! We will fight for food!!”

Clash with UFC stars

After forging his name within the street fighting community, Masvidal worked his way up the professional mixed martial arts ladder.

From Bellator to Strikeforce and then eventually, the UFC. It was a journey that took 10 years in total, but one that took him to the top of the mixed martial arts movement.

However, despite his transition to the mainstream, Masvidal rarely strays from the persona of a backyard fighter and has had several run-ins with other UFC stars.

The first case came at the UFC Fight Night 147 event, in London, where he clashed with British fighter Leon Edwards.

It was a historic night for Masvidal as he topped the card in a match against England’s Darren Teal, which he won, but the real fireworks were backstage.

As Masvidal – who had just scored an impressive KO on Till – was giving a post-fight interview when Edwards teased him.

The American decided to cut his ESPN interview short, as he rambled to Edwards and quickly gave the Briton a “three bites with a soft drink.”

In other words, he started throwing heavy shots at the Birmingham fighter. Edwards returned fire before security stepped in and stopped the chaos behind the scenes.

Although the fight broke up relatively quickly, Edwards suffered a cut above his eye, but decided not to press charges against his welterweight counterpart.

Although Masvidal was fortunate enough to escape a criminal charge on that occasion, his luck ran out after an altercation with Colby Covington.

In March of last year, Masvidal was charged with felony battery after she attacked her rival Covington outside a Miami Beach restaurant — less than three weeks after the pair’s UFC bout.

The two American fighters shared the octagon at the beginning of that month and Covington emerged victorious by unanimous decision, leaving a bad taste in Masvidal’s mouth.

Covington and Masvidal renew their acquaintance outside Pappy Stick, where Masvidal can be heard shouting, “Don’t talk about my kids,” while he is forbidden to go near Covington.

Police said Covington eventually suffered a broken tooth after being punched twice by Masvidal Fox Sports. He was also shot in the eye.

Masvidal is still awaiting judgment on the situation, after his pre-trial and trial hearings were adjourned on three separate occasions, which he did not let go.

Speaking on UFC 287 media day, Masvidal said, “I’ve currently received three felonies, because this b**** Colby says I hit him in the brain, so how he’s going to fight for any titles I want to know.

The UFC would get sued if that guy went in there and something like that happened, right? Because he supposedly said I hit him in the brain. I didn’t s***, though.

The pair were reportedly seen arguing outside a restaurant called Papi Steak before Masvidal 'punched' his former opponent twice.

Police said Covington suffered a fractured tooth after Masvidal was taken down

Police told Fox Sports that Covington suffered two broken teeth after being “sucker punched” twice by Masvidal. He was also shot in the eye

And after targeting Covington, Masvidal decided to get himself into another fight with welterweight Kevin Holland, at a Miami hotel this week.

The incident was caught on camera as Masvidal, who is scheduled to fight fifth-ranked welterweight Gilbert Burns at UFC 287, was stopped due to security.

Holland, facing Santiago Ponzenepo, was restrained by the staff before exchanging verbal blows with Masvidal at the press conference the following day.

When asked about the altercation, Masvidal said: Absolutely nothing. There is nothing to talk about there. Just some riding, clout chasing b****. There is nothing to talk about.

Holland quickly replied, “That’s not what you were saying yesterday. Watch your fucking mouth.”

Masvidal can be seen being restrained by UFC security

Likewise, Kevin Holland was hampered by the organization's employees

A video clip has gone viral on social media showing a couple arguing in a hotel

Historic victories

For all that could be said about his adventures outside of the octagon, there is no denying the legacy he created inside the cage.

Known as a kicker for a long part of his career, Masvidal started making appearances in the UFC after his victory over Darren Till in 2019.

Masvidal was on a year and a half hiatus from MMA after suffering a decision defeat to Stephen Thompson, before returning.

Teal, who had recently left the organization, was on the rise at the time and this led to Dana White scheduling a Fight Night event in London.

However, the fans inside the O2 Arena were left stunned as Masvidal delivered a stunning knockdown to seal the win against Till.

The huge punch drove the London crowd into silence, as the English fighter received his first defeat by KO in his career. devastating end.

Masvidal stunned the crowd at the O2 Arena by defeating Darren Till via KO in 2019

Masvidal stunned the crowd at the O2 Arena by defeating Darren Till via KO in 2019

Only four months after this victory, Masvidal returned to the octagon, this time fighting with American wrestler Ben Askren.

There were high expectations for Askren, who had just signed to the UFC after becoming the welterweight champion in the Championship One organization.

However, those expectations collapsed within five seconds of the fight after Masvidal delivered a now iconic flying knee to leave Askren on the floor.

That was enough to send the Las Vegas crowd into bedlam, as they witnessed the fastest knockout in UFC history.

The win was so impressive that Masvidal quickly became one of the poster boys for fighting hardware and was awarded an eight-fight contract with the UFC.

His next match will see him take on veteran fighter Nate Diaz at the end of 2019. The match will be for the newly created ‘Baddest Motherf***’ belt, or BMF.

A mouth-watering showdown would see two of the UFC’s most iconic bouts clash in a five-round war in Las Vegas, where Masvidal would emerge victorious.

After beating Till Till, Masvidal scored the fastest knockout ever in the UFC over Darren Till

After beating Till Till, Masvidal scored the fastest knockout ever in the UFC over Darren Till

After dominating the fight, Masvidal won the fight via TKO due to a doctor’s stoppage between the third and fourth rounds when the cage doctor determined that a cut over Diaz’s right eye rendered him unable to continue.

It was an emphatic performance from Masvidal, who claimed three wins out of three matches throughout 2019 by defeating Diaz.

However, this would mark the last victory inside the octagon for Masvidal, who was on a losing streak of three straight fights.

He suffered back-to-back defeats against Kamaru Usman – taking home $500,000 to interfere at short notice in the first fight – before losing by decision to Covington.

Masvidal is believed to have earned close to $3.4 million in his career – a far cry from the $500,000 he used to compete in backyards.

But you get the impression that Masvidal will trade his money to be crowned champion again. He will take another step towards that goal if he can get back to his winning ways this weekend.

Masvidal poses with a BMF belt wrapped around his waist after his victory over Nate Diaz

Masvidal poses with a BMF belt wrapped around his waist after his victory over Nate Diaz

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