Jorge Masvidal has to get the next shot at current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. He just has to.
UFC caught lightning in a bottle at UFC 239 when Masvidal took out Ben Askren with a record-breaking knee that overshadowed everything on a quite newsworthy show and went viral outside of MMA circles. In five seconds or less, Masvidal took himself from a UFC journeyman who was gaining some momentum, to a known commodity and potential bankable star.
Masvidal’s momentum this year started with a brutal knockout of former title challenger Darren Till and subsequent backstage scuffle with Leon Edwards. He had some good buzz following that win and Google searches for his name spiked. But after UFC 239, searches for Masvidal quadrupled the previous peak. UFC has a potential breakout star in Jorge Masvidal and they shouldn’t squander him with anything but a championship fight.
Masvidal’s record-setting, five-second win over Askren is the perfect selling point for a fight against the rather drab, but effective champion Usman. Usman’s workmanlike performances over Demian Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, and Tyron Woodley were impressive in their efficacy but didn’t deliver much in terms of entertainment factor. If fans were apathetic towards Woodley’s title reign, Usman’s reign is in a black hole of fan interest. Masvidal can be sold as a knockout artist who can credibly threaten to usurp the champ.
The record is unlikely to be beaten or even matched for many years, if at all. And then even if it is, it may not be done by a fighter near the top of his division. As a fight promoter, when you are given a gift like this, you have to strike while the iron is hot. Putting Masvidal against an opponent other than the champion threatens to lose the equity built up by the knockout.
Booking Masvidal against Conor McGregor is a viable alternative, but it may not be the best use of McGregor. Keeping Masvidal on the shelf and having him wait out while the Robbie Lawler-Colby Covington winner gets the shot also risks losing the momentum Masvidal has built.
Masvidal should fight Kamaru Usman and it should be soon. This way, all parties can benefit the most from this once in a lifetime finish.
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