EXCLUSIVE | Jorge Masvidal on Rustam Khabilov: “I forgot his name, but whatever it is, I’m going to kick his ass!”
Jorge Masvidal, a fighter who gained prominence for backyard fights that broadcast on the internet, is on the verge of making some noise in the UFC’s lightweight division. He’ll take on Russian phenom, Rustam Khabilov, at UFC Fight Night 31 on November 6.
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
Jorge Masvidal took some time out of his training to talk with BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio last week.
It’s been a big year for Masvidal (25-7), who debuted in the UFC in April by defeating Tim Means via unanimous decision. He followed that performance with a second round submission victory over The Ultimate Fighter Live winner, Michael Chiesa. Now, Masvidal is less than two months out from his next fight, a bout against tough, new Russian import, Rustam Khabilov.
Khabilov (16-1) is also 2-0 in the UFC, with two first-round stoppages. For Masvidal, who has already faced a number of top fighters during his time at Strikeforce, Khabilov is the fight that could launch Masvidal into facing the top-tier of opponents in the UFC. But ask Jorge Masvidal, and he’ll tell you that his opponent is no one too tough.
“You know what? I didn’t think he’d be a way into the top ten, I don’t see anybody that he’s beaten on his record that’s a worthy opponent, you know what I’m saying? So I don’t think he’s top ten. If I were to get rated in the top ten by beating him, I think a lot of rankings are off, there’s much [more] dangerous guys that I’ve beat up. It’s what I believe and what he believes, and I think come November 6, I’m going to kick his ass.
“I’m hungry like I’ve never been hungry before. I just can’t wait. As soon as they offered me this dude, I said yes. I heard other dudes were ducking this guy, soon as I got offered this guy, I was like, ‘Another Christmas present? Another easy fight?’ This is money in my pocket guaranteed already. I’m glad the UFC is giving me these guys, I’m happy as hell. I forget it, I think it’s Boris or Vladimir, I forgot his name, but whatever it is, man, I’m going to kick his ass real bad… He’s going down, man. And we’re fighting in America, in a[n] army base, this one’s for America. This one’s on me, America, I’m gonna kick some ass!”
Regardless of Masvidal’s confidence, the fact of the matter is Rustam Khabilov has considerable hype behind him. As both fighters are undefeated in the UFC, one of them is poised to leave this fight with a lot of momentum.
“It’s proving time. We’re going to find out who’s the truth and who’s not. I’m going to call myself ‘The Mythbuster’ after this run I’m about to go on right now… I think a lot of these cats [are] overrated, man, and it’s about time I get to business on them.”
With this fight in November, Masvidal will have fought three times in 2013 a busy change from just one fight in 2012. For Masvidal, that’s exactly what he hoped for.
“I was like a kid on Christmas, man, like I was eight years old again. I had butterflies, and I was just ready to go to work. I’m so blessed to fight. Hopefully, I want to get more fights in this year, but I know definitely I’m going to be happy with that as well, you know… It’s fucking amazing man, I mean I haven’t even left the gym. I’ve taken like a week off after the fight, but I’m in the gym, not just every day but twice a day, bro… I just knew, even before the UFC called me, I just knew something would be coming up. So we were staying in shape. I’m in awe that I’m saying this. That’s the thing I’m happiest for.”
Though this next fight will be his third in the UFC’s Octagon, Masvidal recalled his debut and what it was like to be on the world’s biggest stage for MMA.
“For me it was a little different. I mean at the end of the day, no matter where you fight, whether it’s the UFC or the backyard, it’s a fight, you know, it’s you against another man. But I did feel something: not nervous, more like lackadaisical, like I just couldn’t pick my body up, like I usually am. I’m usually pumped backstage sweating up a storm, like real energetic. That wasn’t happening to me, that was real weird. I had to do double the amount of sprints that I usually do. I wasn’t able to get myself pumped in the moment, that was the only thing different for me. Other than that I felt good. Once I walked out there, the first contact, I started feeling good after that.
“The second time around I was a little more in tune. The first time I fought for the UFC was in the daytime, I’m used to fighting in the night time. This time we were much more prepared to fight in the daytime. We switched the sparring, because I usually spar at night because all the fights had been at night. We did some extra things to prepare me for the daytime combat.”
There will be no doubt that Masvidal will be completely comfortable coming into his November 6 fight, though it would be difficult for him to completely block out his surroundings. UFC Fight Night 31 will be held at Fort Campbell in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Those in attendance will be members of the United States Army.
“[I] just [want to] put on a show for [the troops], man. Put on extra good of a show. You know they’re gonna be into the fights, [it’s] like their time off away from war or whatever it is they’re going to right now. They don’t get a lot of down time, so I’m going to make sure it’s an extra exciting bout. Like I said, I’m USA, he’s Russian, so I got to make sure I represent hard. I ain’t losing on no Army base to a Russian, it’s just not happening. Broken arm, it don’t matter what happens to me in that fight, I’m not losing.”
Coming into this fight, Masvidal has been pretty quiet, especially considering the build-up to his last fight against Michael Chiesa. Masvidal explained that there’s no bad blood, but the build-up to the fight had a little extra motivation for him.
“Yeah, there’s no bad blood at all. We competed, and we talked backstage. Michael’s a cool-ass dude, you know what I’m saying? He’s competitive as well… It was a combination. There was one incident that happened with a teammate of mine that he fought, and the combination that I was fighting him. That gives it extra fuel, you know. That always helps out. You gotta give yourself sometimes a little extra fuel.”
As for trash-talking in general, Masvidal said he’s a big fan as long as its genuine.
“I think trash talking is awesome if you’ve done it since day one. If you saw somebody do it, you see them getting the title shot, so now you’re copying them… If it’s not like your nature, then don’t do it, but if you’re a trash-talker, I love it. Everybody can’t be GSP and congratulate their opponents before and after, or like Randy Couture. Everybody’s different and an individual. If you’re like a shit-talker, yeah I like it, as a fan from my point of view.”
As far as keeping his UFC record undefeated, Masvidal has no worries. Though one can’t say he is looking past Rustam Khabilov, Masvidal himself said he is ready to fight anyone.
“I definitely think I’m top-5 right off the bat, but it’s all in the way the UFC looks at it. I don’t know if they want to test me to see where I’m at or build me up, I don’t know what their perspective is. If it were up to me, I’d be fighting the toughest guys out right now, you know, the toughest guys to fight right off the gate… I don’t think my name-recognition is as big as some of these other guys; but definitely skill-wise, I’m ready for any of them, man.”
You can catch Jorge Masvidal fight Rustam Khabilov at UFC Fight Night 31, Fight for the Troops live on Wednesday, November 6. The fights will air live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 7pm/4pm ETPT. The bout order is yet to be finalized, but the card will be headlined by a middleweight fight between Lyoto Machida and Tim Kennedy.