Masdival’s thrashing of “Funky” Ben Askren was a warning to all the aspiring Conor McGregors out there.
There is a thin line in MMA that only few competitors can cross successfully.
Whenever controversy sells, it has a white face on it in mixed martial arts. Take number one bad boy, Conor McGregor, who can seemingly get away with anything. From causing a melee in the corridors of the Barclays Center that seriously injured other fighters to the now mythic T-Mobile fracas that spilled onto arena floor during UFC 229, McGregor has virtually always gotten away with his nonsense.
His antics have been lauded by his fan base and used as marketing bait by his promoter.
Well, UFC fighter Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is here for it. Not specifically McGregor, but those who have taken in his image and the other fighters that have followed suit in various threatening and in this case non-threatening ways.
This past weekend at UFC 239 in Las Vegas, the Miami former street fighter destroyed Olympic wrestler “Funky” Ben Askren in five seconds.
Yes, five seconds.
The flying knee win was immediate as Masvidal charged Askren, a known take-down artist who was attempting his usual shoot stance to the chagrin of his chin.
Masvidal followed up the KO with blows to an already fast asleep Askren and then let loose a celebratory stance, laying on the canvas mocking the downed fighter. When asked about why he provided the additional blows and the celebration at the end, his answer was strictly to be understood by the culture.
“The (punches) were super necessary,” said Masvidal during the post-fight press conference. “The referee hadn’t pulled me off and my job is to hit somebody until the referee pulls me off. So to those people I would say don’t watch MMA, go back to soccer.
“There’s not too many people that I’ve disliked. I have over 50 pro fights and he’s one of them. He’s talked about my manhood, my culture, my ethnicity, where do we draw (the line) why do certain people get to do stuff online? So you can do anything? Everything is cool before a fight? You’re allowed to do and say whatever you want like other fighters are now doing. Talk about people’s religions, wife, even kids, that’s cool? But after a fight, I’m not allowed to showboat and rub it in your face so you and guys like you can see it and be like maybe I shouldn’t talk so much shit because when I cross one of these real motherf*@kers, they’re going to make me pay for it man. They’re going to embarrass the sh*t out of me.”
When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong
With the rise of McGregor has come the acceptance of fighter degradation across all personal lines. Although Muhammad Ali used terms like “gorilla” when describing Joe Frazier, he never crossed the line into family and religion.
McGregor famously posted an image of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s wife during an Islamic ceremony where she wore a burka and called her a towel. McGrgeor “Stan” Colby Covington dons MAGA hats and gets greeted by President Trump in the White House while chiding former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley for pointing out UFC’s racial disparities.
He also called Brazilians “filthy animals” and Brazil a “dump” while in Brazil. Covington trains at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida where many trainers and UFC champ-champ Amanda Nunes also train.
This behavior goes as far back as Anderson “The Spider” Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, who called himself “The Gangster of West Linn”. Sonnen, tongue in cheek, poked fun at his uber suburban upbringing in West Linn, Oregon versus Silva’s Curitiba, Brazil rearing.
Sonnen toed the line that McGregor ultimately crossed and he paid dearly for it with two back-to-back losses at the hands of “The Spider” in 2010 and 2012. However, since then McGregor popularized the art of trash talking, elevating it from a cheap marketing ploy to a TMZ level regularity.
Masvidal came from the backyard brawls organized by Kimbo Slice in Miami. He is a Cuban that has ascended the ranks of street fighting into MMA’s most hallowed fighting ground, the Octagon. When his knee made its fateful impact on Askren’s face, the under represented fans of color whose voices are muted by the majority fan base of the sport rejoiced off GP.
Askren, when baiting current UFC welterweight champion and the first African UFC champion, Kamaru Usman, called him “Marty” instead of pronouncing Kamaru.
To hear Masvidal explain why the KO was so significant put a bow on a perfect present for the other fan base of MMA fans. Finally, it was a bit of truth serum in the form of a reality check that only the underserved can appreciate.
It hearkened back to Khabib’s famous neck crank win over McGregor where for that second before referee Herb Dean pulled him off, you saw all the tension between the general market fan base and its outliers collide in one rage filled moment.
“Its not over for Ben either, he still has to see me,” said Masvidal. “If I see him at Whole Foods, I’m going to still slap that dude up because I don’t like him.”
With Masvidal here to continue keeping it real destructive for MMA’s most popular fighters, the game might be changing for those who are game bred.