Welcome to The Weekly Takedown, Sports Illustrated’s newest look at MMA. Every week, this column will offer insight and information on the most noteworthy stories in the fight world.
Jorge Masvidal Has Sights Set on Title Bout
Jorge Masvidal will fight Leon Edwards in December at UFC 269, which will be a continuation from their original scuffle in March 2019 at a UFC Fight Night in London.
Earlier that night, Edwards defeated Gunnar Nelson by split decision. Then came the main event, where Masvidal knocked out Darren Till. As a victorious Masvidal was being interviewed following his win, he suddenly found himself in the midst of a backstage altercation with Edwards. Unsurprisingly, both Masvidal and Edwards recall the moment in distinctly different manners, but there is no argument that the fracas ended with an open cut under Edwards’s left eye.
This scuffle is what led to Masvidal’s outrageous “I had to give him the three piece with the soda” line, which perfectly captured the spirit of the moment. And now that the two highly ranked welterweights—Edwards is ranked third, while Masvidal is ranked sixth—are set to meet in December, Masvidal says he is eager to finally teach Edwards a proper lesson for his actions.
“On a personal side, I don’t have respect for Leon,” says Masvidal. “The way he went about business is just f------ childish and cowardly, talking s--- and trying to cut me off in interviews. On the business side, I’m going to smash his face in. He’s never fought nobody like me. This dude is going to be coming with his skates on. He’s going to be running from me all night. So prepare to see a track meet, because he’s going to run from me. And when he finally decides to throw down like a man, I’m going to break his jaw.”
Masvidal (35–15) has dropped his last two bouts, both to reigning welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Edwards (19–3, 1 NC) is—once again—one victory away from a shot at Usman, and he desperately needs a win against Masvidal to get a crack at the title. He has not tasted defeat in his last 10 contests, though he was nearly knocked out this past June by Nate Diaz.
“Did you see what Nate Diaz did to him?” asks Masvidal. “Nate almost took his f------ soul with him. Well, does he know who I am? Don’t be surprised by what I do to what’s-his-face from England.”
The “three piece with a soda” has added another marvelous layer to Masvidal’s remarkable career. He noted that he plans on reminding Edwards of their shared history as they build to the upcoming fight.
“Because of Leon, we sold over 2,000 of those T-shirts as soon as they came out,” Masvidal says. “So thank you, Leon. I should send that b-----ass motherf---er a piece of the check. I’ll definitely get him a signed shirt.”
Masvidal will also be part of All Elite Wrestling’s Rampage show Friday in his hometown Miami. He will be in the corner of former UFC heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos, who teams with Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page against the team of Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara and Jake Hager.
“These motherf---ers in AEW are some savages, and I’m here to domesticate them,” Masvidal says. “They’re coming to Miami, so there is no way they can f--- with American Top Team in my house.”
Masvidal appeared on Rampage last month, and he even hit his signature high knee to knock out Jericho, a wrestling legend.
“I respect the f--- out of Chris Jericho,” Masvidal says. “He’s done this at the highest level for 30 years. If I see him anywhere else, I’m buying him drinks all night. But I only have one speed. When I see him in the ring, it’s a different story.”
Even with multiple projects keeping him busy, Masvidal’s focus is fighting. He plans to use the bout against Edwards as a catapult back into title contention.
“I have the best fans in the world, I have some crazy things planned, and I still ain’t done,” Masvidal says. “I get humbled when I look back on my life and what I’ve accomplished. I love the f--- out of it. But it’s not over. I’m still mean as f---, and I still have a lot to do. I’m going to put in the work in the gym day-to-day.
“Another title fight, that’s going to happen. I don’t care how hard I have to dig. I’ve never had anything handed to me in my life, and I’m not about to now. I’ll put in the work. Put one tough guy after another in front of me, and I’ll execute them. Then it will be undeniable, and me and Kamaru will fight again. That’s when my hand will be raised. It’s going to make the end of the movie that much better.”
UFC 268 changes direction without Luke Rockhold
Luke Rockhold is out of next month’s UFC 268 due to a herniated disc. That leaves Sean Strickland without an opponent for the must-see card at Madison Square Garden, which would be solved if Gilbert Burns is placed in that position.
For Strickland, there would have been more name value in beating Rockhold, whose chin hasn’t been the same since 2016. But a win against Burns, who is ranked second in the welterweight division, would hold far more meaning.
If Usman successfully defends his title against Colby Covington at 268, the most likely challenger next would be Edwards, permitting he gets past Masvidal. Yet there is something odd about a potential Usman-Edwards meeting, as it feels that is simply destined not to occur, not unlike Khabib Nurmagomedov–Tony Ferguson.
Burns-Strickland would add even more substance to the card. Strickland has yet to beat anyone all that impressive, and Burns is coming off a lackluster victory against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Though it would mean a move to welterweight, on a card filled with high stakes, this would be a must-win for both fighters.
The Pick ’Em Section
Here are my picks for this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night:
Women’s featherweight bout: Aspen Ladd vs. Norma Dumont
Pick: Aspen Ladd
Heavyweight bout: Andrei Arlovski vs. Carlos Felipe
Pick: Carlos Felipe
Lightweight bout: Jim Miller vs. Erick Gonzalez
Pick: Jim Miller
Middleweight bout: Andrew Sanchez vs. Bruno Silva
Pick: Bruno Silva
Women’s flyweight bout: Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
Pick: Manon Fiorot
Middleweight bout: Julian Marquez vs. Jordan Wright
Pick: Julian Marquez
Last week: 2–2
Current record: 30–17
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