UFC Denver Aftermath: Jorge Masvidal’s Next Step

After a huge win over Donald Cerrone at UFC Denver, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is finally on the cusp of a title shot.

At UFC Denver, Jorge Masvidal had a breakout stoppage win over then fifth-ranked Welterweight and fan-favorite Donald Cerrone. He punished Cerrone with body kicks and right hands, and finished the first round with an extremely brutal knockdown.

Stepping in, referee Herb Dean was unsure when exactly the round had ended, due to the roaring crowd. So he let Cerrone up and into the second round after a doctor’s clearance. But the fight was already over. Masvidal quickly finished off the Cowboy and skyrocketed his stock in the Welterweight division.

“Gamebred” Masvidal has been an elite and well-rounded fighter for years, first earning acclaim as a YouTube sensation from the Miami backyard brawls organized by the late Kimbo Slice. He has fought in many MMA organizations but has been criticized for coasting in fights and struggling to “pull the trigger,” resulting in a level of popularity not quite commensurate with his talent and skill.

After this victory, Masvidal himself told the media that if the fans want to see the best fights out of him, the UFC should give him the best opponents. That’s what motivates him to train diligently and to finish fights.

So who does Masvidal fight next in the talent stacked welterweight division? At UFC 209, the belt will be contested by champion Tyron Woodley and top contender Stephen Thompson in a rematch of their draw from UFC 205.

This leaves possible top-five opponents of Carlos Condit, former champion Robbie Lawler, and hungry veteran Damien Maia. Condit and Lawler are coming off first-round stoppage losses- Condit to Maia and Lawler to Woodley. Both are also rumored to be contemplating retirement.

This leaves the obvious choice of Maia. The problem is Maia has opted to wait and face the winner of the upcoming title fight. He has little incentive to face the dangerous Masvidal. But perhaps the UFC can put this fight together. It seems the most logical step for Masvidal. Styles make fights, as they say, and Maia’s smothering Jiu Jitsu would be the perfect foil to Masvidal’s fluid movement and grit.

Yesterday, Masvidal made an Instagram post featuring a very angry Tony Montana, with the caption “When [Dana White] Or [Sean Shelby] call me with a #fight outside the top 5 #easymoney.”

It does seem odd that the UFC brass would offer him an opponent outside the top five, seeing how he just finished the fifth-ranked contender. Hopefully they can get the Maia fight on paper.

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