Jorge Masvidal started his fighting career knocking people out as a teenager in the backyards of Miami. Now, after 16 years of professional combat, he is preparing to do battle in one of the biggest arenas in the world. For the fighter, stepping into Madison Square Garden doesn’t matter to him nearly as much as who he is stepping up to.
“I could care less where a fight is happening,” says Masvidal to Men’s Journal. “All I care about is who is standing across the mat from me.” On Nov. 2, his welterweight opponent will be none other than MMA wild card Nate Diaz. The match comes on the heels of Masvidal’s 5-second annihilation of Ben Askren, the quickest stoppage in UFC history, with a flying knee.
Masvidal sat down with Men’s Journal at the Mr. C Seaport Hotel in New York City to discuss how he pulled off his record-setting knockout and his training camp for UFC 244.
How far out did you prepare for the Ben Askren fight?
The fight camp for the Ben Askren fight was a long one. We were at it full on for about 12 weeks. Coming off of that I didn’t have much of a break. I was technically on my vacation when they said that the fight was on, so I only took about five days of active rest. Once my camp beings my ironsmith, also known as my coach, will start to pick out weapons.
The flying knee was one of those weapons?
I was drilling a few techniques that I knew would make Ben Askren uncomfortable. Techniques like the flying knee. I love to drill. I will drill the same movement hundreds of time. There are a lot of people who get bored of drilling. I love it. I don’t just find beauty in trying to be efficient and perfect with something, but also I know there is conditioning coming from it. I will do it by myself or with a training partner.
How much did you drill that particular move?
I am not exaggerating when I say that for the Askren fight I was drilling the flying knee for 30 minutes straight. Then I would take a break, have a little water, maybe watch a fight, and once the exhaustion is gone go back to drilling that same move. I put everything I have into it. I don’t care if the practice is over, if I still have something left I don’t stop. The same with the move that I used to end the Darren Till fight. Now I am sharpening up different for Nate.
This fight came pretty soon after the Askren victory.
The fight didn’t go that long, but the training camp was brutal. I took my soul to its limits, I pushed so hard. That was every day, each time going a little harder. My coaches have never been happier with me. So once the Askren fight was over I was feeling pretty good. I didn’t have any injuries from the fight, the only nicks that I had were from the camp. I was already revved up when the call about Nate Diaz came through. I was already in shape, had put all of this work into the last camp. I came into this camp with a lot of gas stored up and reserved. Ready to burn.
On days like today when you are away from your camp, how do you stay consistent?
I have been fighting professionally for 16 years, and more off the books. I am used to traveling and training when I have to. All I need is a one hour window and I will get it done. I get it in no matter, if I had to run to Central Park right now in my sweats to sprint and jog I would. Let’s say all I had was staircase that was five flights. There is an intensity and push that I can bring myself to the wall. I will get myself to the point where I am going to throw up or close to. I only had a pool today, so I swam until I couldn’t anymore. I don’t have an offseason. I am always in the gym doing work. Because of that I am always ready to roll. I already have what I need to beat him, and I am just sharpening it every day.
How do you like doing your camp in Miami?
I love the atmosphere of Miami, but what I really love about training down there is my coaches. I could take my coaches anywhere and it would be my favorite place to train. I would like to get into the mountains too, I have done some in Colorado and really dug that. Getting up in the altitude. I love hitting trails and hiking in the mountains when I can.
When did you get a chance last?
Few weeks ago I was in the Rockies, getting into the wilderness. Those places are important to let the mind get free. Getting out into the woods. The phones don’t work, none of that bullshit is coming through. I’ll be doing it again before or my fight here for sure.
Do you find yourself doing a lot of traditional training when preparing for a fight like this?
I was never able to lift weights when I was fighting at 155 pounds, because I would just blow up. Now that I am doing 170 pounds, I can lift weights. Early into the training I will lift some, but once we get about seven weeks out I will taper off. That is because there is an impact on my body that is unnecessary, I could be sore when I don’t need to be. Once I get close to the fight it is all sprints, bodywork, and lifting people off the ground. You can lift a barbell all day, but that won’t prepare you for the feeling off trying to get a man off the ground that doesn’t want to be there. I will lift a man up a hundred times during practice. That is all the lifting that I need to do. Boxing tones you up, but nothing prepares you for a fight like wrestling. Not to mention once he’s down on the ground he’s going to try to get up and kill you. Those are my kind of reps.
How often are you running?
I love a good fun run. I have a bike path by where I live, in Kebesane Park, which is great. I also hit the track and field a lot. I will do mid-distance runs one or twice a week. But sprints are what really prepare you for a fight in my opinion, something like an 800. Those are fairly difficult for me. So doing those is a challenge I dig into.
What kind of training feels most like a mixed martial arts fight?
I compare a UFC fight to a massive 800 sprint where at the finish line there is someone who would like to kill you. Then there are other factors you have to consider, like the adrenaline that kicks in. Once that kicks in you are just an animal, hitting them with punches, but once that pump is done there is a wave of exhaustion that hits. Because you borrowed that energy with interest. Being able to push through that decides whether you are a man or not, when the punishment comes the other way and that guy wants payback. That is what I pride myself on, I don’t back down, no matter what.
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