Whether he was your pick for 2019 Fighter of the Year, or at least in your top-3, no one had a bigger surge over that 12-month stretch than Jorge Masvidal. After losing back-to-back fights in 2017, and not competing at all in 2018, “Gamebred” took the UFC by storm with highlight reel knockouts over Darren Till and Ben Askren before headlining UFC 244 against Nate Diaz, and capturing the created “BMF” title.
While 2019 was a banner year for Masvidal, the plan is to enhance the momentum even further throughout 2020.
The 35-year-old Masvidal has put himself in quite the position to kick off the new year as he has a plethora of options ahead of him. Abe Kawa, Masvidal’s manager, spoke to BJPENN.com on Wednesday to discuss his client’s ideal plan for 2020. The next step may be clearer on Jan. 19 when Conor McGregor headlines UFC 246 against Donald Cerrone.
“I’d say, for him, after this fight with Nate, he’s really good in terms of finances right now,” Kawa said of Masvidal. “But one thing that’s not gonna change about him is that he’s a prize fighter. He’s a guy that wants the biggest prizes that he can possibly get. You’ve heard him in many, many interviews: I would think that, just based what’s out there right now, we’ve got to wait to see if Conor [McGregor] wins. If Conor wins, I think that’s a fight that would be interesting.
“I’m more curious to see what Conor’s body looks like at 170 over anything else because, let’s face it, if Conor goes up to fight ‘Cowboy’ and it’s a terrible fight — and I don’t foresee that happening at all, Conor’s never been in a terrible fight — but if it is a terrible fight, would Conor really be what we want next? I don’t know. If Conor goes out there and does what Conor does than I think that’s a no-brainer. If Conor loses, that’s where I think things get interesting.”
Even without a fight with McGregor, Masvidal still has multiple roads he can take that are both lucrative and headline-making. The first option that comes to mind is a fight with current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Another would be to fight the older brother of Masvidal’s most recent opponent, Nick Diaz, who has expressed interest in fighting the American Top Team product.
All in all, it’s a darn good place to be in if you’re Masvidal
“If you’re making this into an NFL playoff-type thing, we’re the Baltimore Ravens. We’ve clinched home field advantage, we’re all right, we’re sitting pretty,” Kawa explained. “I know Nick Diaz is out there and that’s a fight I think the fans deserve and should see. Usman? He doesn’t know who Jorge is so I don’t know how he’d feel about fighting Jorge. From a stylistic standpoint, that’s probably the worst matchup for Usman that there is, so I get why Usman is playing that role.”
Masvidal has stated many times that he is in the prize fighting business and he is looking to cash the biggest paychecks possible. In a shorter shelf life sport like MMA that is still on the rise, and relatively new in comparison to other major sports, the window to make a truck-full of cash is small. That is something that is not going to change for Masvidal heading into 2020.
In addition, one of Masvidal’s goals in 2020 is to become the UFC welterweight champion, according to Kawa.
“I will say this about Jorge, the belt means a lot to him,” Kawa said. “People may think it doesn’t, but it really does. It’s something he’s had his sights on for a long time. People don’t understand that the way to make money is to get the belt. Jorge, Nate and Conor, they’ve all kind of shown that they can be bigger than the belt. You can go out there and still make a whole lot of money if you can get out there, properly market yourself and make yourself a huge star. You can become one of the high-paid guys by being there.”
Should Masvidal be successful in accomplishing those goals — which also could include a fight in the professional boxing world, an opportunity Masvidal and Kawa would jump at if the price was right — there is a part of “Gamebred” that would like to parlay those accomplishments into historical accolades.
Making a lot of money is always great. Capturing a world title would be a significant accomplishment. But using his newfound superstardom to set up a chance to become the best in the world is something that is on Masvidal’s mind as well.
According to Kawa, becoming the champion wouldn’t make him the best in the world. What Masvidal plans to do after becoming a UFC title holder for the first time would cement his legacy forever.
“If we fight Usman, who is the A-Side and who is the B-Side,” Kawa said. “[Jorge] is the A-Side, right? The belt is — and it’s been like this for a while — it’s a means to get paid. That’s why you fight for the belt, not to prove you’re the best in the world. The belt represented the most amount of money so that’s why you did it. Now, once you get the belt, now it’s your job to prove you’re the best in the world — that’s how I look at the belt, that’s my vision of it. That’s why I think Jon [Jones] is the greatest fighter of all-time and [Demetrious Johnson] is 1-B, or number two. I think Jorge as shown that he’s fought the who’s who, he’s fought everyday, I don’t know how you don’t start talking about this guy being one of the best welterweights there is, period.
“A belt shouldn’t determine who you are, but he has his sights set on that welterweight strap. He wants it and wants to show everybody, ‘hey, I’m not just the BMF [champ], because that was a belt created just for that fight, but I’m also the best in the world. I’ll show you I’m the best in the world. I’ll get the belt, defend it a couple of times and then I’ll go on my merry way and be a hermit crab and ski for the rest of my life.’ That’s what his plans are, that’s what he wants to do.”
What do you think 2020 holds for Jorge Masvidal?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 1/2/2020.