This weekend, Jorge Masvidal will step into the Octagon for one of the most important fights of his already storied career against one of the hottest fighters currently competing in the UFC’s welterweight division: Demian Maia, whom Masvidal is set to face on the main card of UFC 211 in Dallas, Texas, might possess the best BJJ in the organization. And “Gamebred” is fully aware of this. However, his next opponent’s extraordinarily high level of Brazilian jiu-jitsu doesn’t seem to intimidate Masvidal, who is confident that he’ll be leaving the cage with one more victory come Saturday night.
More of a boxing specialist, Masvidal fights totally different than Maia, and he knows that he’d be better off avoiding his opponent’s strength at all costs. After all, according to “Gamebred” himself, his opponent is the best jiu-jitsu player ever seen in the UFC.
“I think Demian is the guy with the best jiu-jitsu who has ever gone through the UFC”, Masvidal told AG. Fight ahead of Saturday’s fight. “He has beaten several good grapplers and I don’t see anyone on his level when we talk jiu-jitsu […]. If he can get close to you he’ll tie you up, take you down and then he’ll be in his world.”
There’s a grappling-based recipe to beat the grappling master, though, according to Masvidal.
“To beat a guy like Demian, you’ve got to have high-level wrestling, and my wrestling is a lot better than his”, Masvidal said. “My takedown defense and my standup game will make the difference in this fight.”
When questioned about a supposed new weapon of Maia, who revealed that he had perfected his transition to the back of his opponent, a position in which he has won many fights already, Masvidal made it clear that he will not even give Maia a chance to close the distance: “Gamebred” believes that his defensive wrestling will hold up to the Brazilian’s pressure.
“This is one of the things you don’t do with Demian, you don’t let him get close. I won’t let him do that, I’m a better wrestler than he is. He can have all the surprises he wants, but he won’t get it done. A guy who has defensive wrestling as good as mine, he never went through that in his career. But he’ll find out how good of a wrestler I am Saturday.”
The son of a Cuban father and Peruvian mother, Masvidal grew up without many luxuries in Miami, Florida and has been involved in street fights frequently during that time as a series of videos on the web proves. Perhaps because of this background story, the now professional fighter knows better than most how much of a difference an idol can make in the life of a young man with no perspective. And that is how “Gamebred” hopes to help the next generation of Latinos in MMA: serving as an example for children the same way that boxers Roberto Dúran and Felix Trinidad did for him.
“I really want to help the sport, but as I said, I have money to support my family, so I’m happy. I don’t intend to be famous, but what I would like to do is to be an example to many people. When I was a kid, I always looked at boxers like Roberto Durán and Felix Trinidad and thought, ‘These guys are just like me, they speak Spanish, they’re humble and now they’re world champions. If they can do it, I can, too.’ I want people in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean to look at me and think, ‘If that guy got it, I can do it as well.’ No matter your nationality, if you’re good, you can do it. I have no interest in being famous, but if I can serve as an example for other fighters, I’ll be happy.”
The bout between Masvidal and Maia will be featured on the Pay-per-View main card at UFC 211. The winner of the fight is expected to be next in line for a shot at the welterweight division’s belt, which is currently held by Tyron Woodley.