Jorge Masvidal has gone from Kimbo Slice street fights and sleeping at the gym to fastest...

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    Jorge Masvidal will get the UFC title shot he deserves at Fight Island this weekend after a long road to the top.

    The 35-year-old, who has 48 professional fights to his name, stepped in as a last minute replacement for Gilbert Burns, who tested positive for coronavirus.

    Jorge Masvidal is finally getting a title shot in the UFC
    Getty Images - Getty

    He will take on Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight title and is the match-up that fans really wanted to see at Fight Island.

    It’s not been an easy journey for the Miami native and takes a look back at his trials and tribulations along the way.

    Rough upbringing in Florida

    Masvidal is the son of a Peruvian mother and Cuban father and was born in Miami.

    His father escaped Cuba at the age of 14 on a makeshift raft and ended up in the Virgin Islands before reaching America.

    When Masvidal was just four, his father was sent to jail for 18 years for drug trafficking but that was not the story he was told until much later.

    For nine years he thought his father was away with the army and their only contact was via phone.

    Masvidal made his MMA debut in 2003
    Getty Images - Getty

    It was a rough upbringing in Miami and in an interview with the BBC revealed how he had a knife pulled on him by some older boys when he was younger.

    He said: ”I was about nine years old riding a bike with some friends when we got stopped by a group of guys who were three or four years older than us.

    “One of the guys leans over, grabs my shirt, pulls out a knife and tells me to give him my bike. I was scared. He had a knife. But there was a fence between us so I pulled back, assessed the situation, then took off.

    “Then, five or six months later, there’s this incident where my friend got slapped at school, and I asked who’s the guy that slapped you? He pointed to the kid and just by luck, I realised it was the same guy who pulled a knife on me.

    “We started going at it by the side of the cafeteria. I knew how to throw punches by watching kung-fu movies, and I landed a flurry, plus a head butt which busted his nose.”

    He then started training in boxing when he was 14 and took part in wrestling in high school but didn’t have the grades to continue.


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    What Masvidal told Usman after UFC 251 will get fans excited
    Kimbo Slice street fights

    Masvidal gained some notoriety in 2003 at just 18, when he had a street fight against Kimbo Slice’s right-hand man, Ray.

    He was sat in a McDonald’s drive-through when the call came from Slice, the late MMA fighter who organised and uploaded mutual combat street fights to YouTube, and he fought Ray later that day.

    Masvidal has an MMA record of 35-13
    Getty Images - Getty

    “There was never any animosity,” Masvidal told BBC Sport. “It was just fierce competition and two guys going at it. If I’d lost, I would have gone over to him, shook his hand and hugged him.

    “Me and Kimbo, rest in peace, we used to train at the same gym.

    “He’d already seen me working out and we built up a little bit of a connection after talking a couple of times. That’s when he asked if I’d like to fight in his backyard. The rest is history.”

    Grinding his way to the top

    When Masvidal was coming up as a youngster, MMA was not a mainstream sport like it is today.

    It was often portrayed as too violent by people outside of its dedicated fan bases and was even banned in some US states. New York was the last of the 50 states to lift its ban in 2016.

    ‘Gamebred,’ as he is also known, had to work hard to get to the top, putting in the daily grind in the gym and even sleeping there on occasions.

    Masvidal’s coach at American Top Team Mike Brown told SunSport: “He’s very authentic and real.

    “It’s a guy who has literally fought for everything he’s got after coming from humble beginnings.

    “He comes from a family who didn’t have a lot of money, and when you start out in the sport of MMA, there is no money, right?

    “Especially at that time, there was a lot less than there is now and you kind of just do it for the love and if you want to be good you don’t have time to work 40 hours a week.

    Masvidal has a 12-6 record in the UFC since his debut with the promotion in 2013
    Getty Images - Getty

    “So you’re not making money, you’re broke, he was spending all that time in the gym instead of working and really taking a gamble, a big risk.

    “You’re really rolling the dice, but he did it, he made it. And not everyone does, it’s really very difficult.

    “But he put himself all in, didn’t have a back-up plan but he hit the jackpot. He fought his way to a better life.”

    He made his MMA debut in 2003 with the AFC promotion before moving to Bellator and Strikeforce.

    Strikeforce was bought by the UFC and dissolved in 2013 and Masvidal moved over to Dana White’s promotion.

    His first UFC fight came in 2013 but he did not rise to prominence all too quickly.

    UFC stardom in 2019

    2019 was a vintage year for Masvidal and really fired him into the mainstream.

    Coming off a two-fight losing streak he took on welterweight contender Darren Till in London, a fight Till was favourite to win.

    Masvidal knocked the Brit out in the second round and put a dent in his opponent’s title hopes at welterweight.

    It was his clash with Ben Askren four months later that really made everyone stand up and take note.

    One year ago today, @GamebredFighter knocked Ben Askren out cold in 5⃣ seconds…

    This was Kamaru Usman's reaction from Octagonside [​IMG]

    — UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) July 6, 2020

    A flying knee knocked Askren out in just five seconds to deliver the fastest KO in UFC history.

    People were starting to take him seriously and he was finally climbing up the welterweight rankings.

    In November last year, he took on Nate Diaz with the winner claiming the BMF (Baddest motherf*****) title, a symbolic UFC belt.

    Masvidal won the fight because of a doctor stoppage after the third round and was presented the belt by The Rock, who is quite the fan of ‘Gamebred’.

    Jorge Masvidal won three times in 2019 to cement his superstar status
    Getty Images - Getty
    Welterweight champion?

    The three-win streak last year started to put Masvidal into the title conversation. He felt he had earned a shot at Kamaru Usman.

    However, negotiations with Dana White nearly put an end to his association with the UFC.

    He said UFC have offered him less than what he made to fight Diaz.

    “I’m in a contract that I had to take to get paid,” Masvidal wrote on Twitter. “Same way I got a new contract to fight [Darren] Till. Then a new contract to fight Nate. They keep extending the amounts of fights to my contract to keep me locked up and when I say I only want a 4-fight contract it’s take it or leave it.

    Masvidal has stepped in to headline UFC 251 with six days notice
    Getty Images - Getty

    “The negotiation is take it or leave it. If I lose, you can cut me and not pay out the rest of the contract. If I win, I’m not in a position to renegotiate the contract? My dad left a communist regime and has prepared me my whole life.”

    Gilbert Burns was eventually paired with Usman for UFC 251 at Fight Island but he had to withdraw due to a positive coronavirus test.

    Masvidal was the natural replacement and it seems they ironed out those difficulties.

    It will be the 35-year-old’s 49th fight in MMA and a chance to get that title he has been working all his life to win.

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