Photo via www.tkomanagement.net.
Jorge Masvidal is coming off a loss to Gilbert Melendez in a fight where the scorecards did not tell the entire story. The Cuban-American did plenty of damage to the reigning Strikeforce Lightweight Champion and the fight was competitive for all five rounds. but he couldn't quite do enough to win more than one of them.
The outcome could have been different had Masvidal not fought with a broken hand, an injury he exacerbated in the opening round, forcing him to stick to a jab-dependent offense for much of the remainder of the fight. There is no shame in losing to a top five lightweight like Melendez and the fact that Masvidal was even headlining a Strikeforce card shows how far his career has come.
He started out a long way from arenas complete with television crews and large crowds. His first taste of fighting was in backyards in Miami where famously he took on one of Kimbo Slice's protegees in a video which is still available on YouTube.
Masvidal says he much prefers fighting on sanctioned shows and is not sure how much his street fighting experience has helped him as a fighter.
'I don't know if it helped develop me as a fighter but it definitely makes you wanna win. It's nice to fight people your own weight and get paid good though. You mighta seen my street fights on youtube, it just went from there. I just like to fight, if i can get paid for it and make a living then that's good."
Masvidal is currently spending some time training at Phuket Top Team in Thailand which is also home to Roger Huerta and a number of up and coming fighters such as Andrew Leone and Rodrigo Praxedes. He is still recovering from his hand injury but hopes to be back in action soon.
"The hand? Yeah it affected me a bit in the Melendez fight, I've had surgery and getting it fixed up now for another fight. I think if I fight Melendez 10 times I win nine, that's always how I feel.... so yeah its a fight I should of won. I want to fight again soon... once my hand is 100% I'm fighting."
Although Masvidal can have no complaints with the outcome of that fight he feels that the 50-45 shut out which two of the judges awarded Melendez didn't accurately reflect his efforts. His previous loss, to Paul Daley in 2010, was much more contentious and he still believes he was robbed of victory that night.
"I feel like I won that fight and yeah I would take a rematch. That's a fight I win. I been robbed more than your local 7/11 but I just want to fight and win. If I fight Melendez again, I will win."
Cain Velasquez made history by becoming UFC heavyweight champion last year and Masvidal, whose family originates from Cuba, is one of the more recognizable Hispanic fighters. He is spending time with Phuket with another famous Hispanic mixed martial artist but says he hasn't had too much time to train with him.
"Roger Huerta's here and we've talked and stuff but he's recovering from a rib, I'm recovering from a hand injury. We both been training at PTT but just haven't had the time to roll together. I trained with Andrew Leone and Rodrigo Praxedes and Olavo Abreu on the mats."
According to Masvidal, mixed martial arts will never occupy the same place as boxing does in the hearts of the Cuban people but he does have plenty of fans in Miami.
"It's not big in Cuba, boxing is what Cuba is all about, that and some wrestling. A lot of Cubans in Miami follow my career and I'm sure some at home do as well."
There has been a steady exodus of fighters from Strikeforce to the UFC but Masvidal is happy to fight whoever is put in front of him regardless of which organization the fight is taking place in.
"Sure, whatever comes - where ever the money is, where ever I need to fight and win. Right now I'm just enjoying my vacation, Thai people are very relaxed, the place is kinda like Miami and the training is good here at Phuket Top Team."