Jorge Masvidal went from brawling for $500 in Kimbo Slices' BACKYARD to promoting his own MMA fights as a UFC superstar | The Sun

JORGE MASVIDAL went from brawling for $500 in Kimbo Slices' BACKYARD to promoting his own MMA fights as a UFC superstar.

Masvidal has become one of the most recognisable names in the sport thanks to his meteoric rise in recent years.


And the American is even a promoter himself now, having launched iKON and Gamebred Fighting Championships.

But he came up the hard way, so much so that he was scrapping in unsanctioned fights across Miami-Dade County.

It was there Masvidal shot to internet fame thanks to the help of street fighting icon Slice – real name Kevin Ferguson.

Ferguson offered him the chance to compete in one of his now-famous backyard brawls, which has since become the stuff of legend.

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Masvidal told SunSport: “It was crazy, one day he was like, ‘Hey, do you want to come fight on my show, in my backyard?’

“And I was like, ‘Holy smokes, that’s nuts, man.’

“This is the same guy that’s getting all these crazy views, he’s knocking people out dead and he’s giving me a chance?

“And it’s kind of like why I felt I had to get into the promoting game, I’m giving these guys that chance to go and earn their keep.”

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Masvidal, now 37, credits much of his success and career to Slice, who sadly passed away aged 42 in 2016.

But what does he think Slice would say to him now, had he seen his rise to stardom?

Masvidal replied: “I think he’d be proud, man.

"Especially that I stayed in the sport, kept myself humble, my mouthpiece in, my hardhat on, just chipping away.”

Masvidal's street fights became a huge hit online but paid little money.

So much so that the purse he took home was down to gambles made by his friends.

Masvidal revealed: “We were placing wagers and bets, you know.


"So my buddy would put $500 to see if the other side want to put up $500.

“Things like that, so not to brag but it wasn’t s*** money, man. It wasn’t nothing. It was more for the journey.

"I knew that I was going to be at this moment in my life, that I would be a professional fighter, competing at the highest of levels.

“So, that was just like, I’m going to do it and getting paid was a bonus, I’m going to make a little bit of change from betting and stuff.

“But this isn’t why I’m in it, I was in it to fight and keep fighting.”

Masvidal turned professional in MMA in 2003 but up until signing for the UFC, he was forced to work odd jobs, coach and even sleep in his car.

He famously offered to fight for FOOD – but fast forward a decade and he signed a lucrative deal to become of one the UFC's highest-paid stars.


Masvidal said: “It’s a little bit surreal. 

“There was many times – not because I was cutting weight – that we didn’t have food to eat at night.

“And now, I can eat wherever I want. I can take my friends out to eat, I can take my family members out to eat.

“So things have definitely changed. But I’m a greedy m***** f*****, man.

“I’m nowhere near done, I’ve got so much more set out in my book to get done before this chapter in my life is over.”

Masvidal has twice challenged for UFC gold and headlined on pay-per-view four times, most recently losing to Colby Covington, 34, in March.

But he has used his fame and fortune to give back and launch his own promotion in a bid to give prospects a platform.


Masvidal said: “I just try and make it better for fighters.

“I also try and bring as many sponsorships as I can, eyeballs as I can, whatever platform I have, I try to help these guys go out and get it.

“And in return, that brings me a lot of hungry fighters that just want to get after it. They now what’s on the line.”

His iKON Fighting Championship returns on August 5 in Savannah, Georgia, with the show streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Masvidal's other banner, Gamebred FC, is uniquely the only promotion that uses MMA sanctioned rules but without gloves.

It gives him the chance to mix his two passions together – bare-knuckle and MMA – both of which made him famous for different reasons.

Masvidal said: “This is how people got to see me, the connection.


“In bare-knuckle, it’s different. Some of my longest and strongest fans are guys that saw me do the bare-knuckle stuff.

“They love it, it’s so primal, it’s something that just speaks to you. These guys are literally going at it. No gloves, nothing.”

Masvidal got to the top of the sport through his ruthless fighting style and core following.

And he sees a lot of himself in the fighters he now signs as a promoter.

Masvidal revealed: "There’s a lot of guys that come in with that dog.

“And what I mean, if they’re not going to take no for an answer, if they got beat up for two rounds and three minutes of it, they’re still going after it.

“They still want to win, they don’t care if they’re hurt, they’re just coming after it and that’s definitely one quality that I look for.

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“I love talented people, I love skilled individuals as well, but I’m looking for the people that have the dog in them and won’t take no for an answer.”

Masvidal's iKON Fighting Championship returns with featherweights Josh Blyden, 35, and Steven New, 32 headlining.

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