Jorge Masvidal operates under the auspices of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and will make his first appearance since November 2017 when he meets Darren Till in the UFC Fight Night 147 headliner on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.
Ahead of Masvidal’s main-event assignment, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He had a challenging upbringing.
Masvidal was born to a Cuban father and Peruvian mother in Miami in 1984. The future fighter faced considerable adversity growing up on the western side of the city. At the age of 4, his father was sentenced to 18 years in prison for drug trafficking. With the family’s principal breadwinner behind bars, Masvidal’s mother used to rise at 4 a.m. to go to work to earn money for her young family. “I always felt like the poorest kid on the block,” Masvidal once said in an interview. “I had a chip on my shoulder about being broke.” The situation has improved considerably for the longtime American Top Team member, as he receives substantial fight pursues, enjoys his three children and has a close relationship with a father who is now free.
2. He turned professional in his teens.
Masvidal made his MMA debut at a HOOKnSHOOT event in May 2003 at the age of 18. He won by first-round knockout and went on to win his next four fights.
3. He has competed in different weight classes.
“Gamebred” spent the majority of his career at lightweight prior to May 2016, when he made the move to welterweight in a losing effort against Lorenz Larkin at UFC Fight Night 88. His five matches since, all with the UFC, have been contested at 170 pounds. The slender 5-foot-11 veteran initially opted to go up a division due to the challenging matchups he believed awaited him there and the lack of restrictions on his diet. The 34-year-old has a reputation as a fan of junk food, particularly Chipotle and McDonald’s. Since Masvidal walks around at a comparatively small 185 pounds, he has little trouble cutting down to the 171-pound non-title fight limit for welterweights.
4. He has only been stopped by strikes once in 45 professional appearances.
Remarkably, over the course of his near 16-year career, Masvidal has only suffered one defeat resulting from strikes. That TKO loss came to Rodrigo Damm in the second round of their June 2008 meeting under the Sengoku flag. Masvidal’s 12 other setbacks are comprised of 10 decisions and two submissions.
5. He used to be a backyard brawler.
Masvidal was a rough kid with a penchant fighting on the streets. In his mid-teens, the emerging martial artist started participating in backyard brawls, some of them run by the late Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson. As the story goes, Masvidal, then a skinny teenager, was eating at McDonald’s when Ferguson phoned him with an offer to fight. After finishing his meal, Masvidal rolled up and defeated a man who outweighed him by more than 40 pounds. A recording of the David-versus-Goliath encounter was uploaded to YouTube and went viral soon after. Masvidal has discussed his brawling days in a number of interviews: “I had done scraps for money since I was 16.”