Jorge Masvidal's class consciousness and the fight fans want

Elias CepedaYahoo Sports Contributor
Jorge Masvidal wants to fight Nate Diaz, but he knows that doesn't make him an enemy. (Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC)
Jorge Masvidal wants to fight Nate Diaz, but he knows that doesn't make him an enemy. (Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC)

Jorge Masvidal says he’s willing to do whatever it takes to become world champion after 16 years campaigning at the top of the MMA world. “Gamebred” was willing to move up 15 pounds to another weight class, he’s willing to fight his longtime friend and teammate Colby Covington, and he’s even willing to wait and take a risky mega-fight against fellow superstar Nate Diaz in between now and whenever he’d be able to book a championship bout.

What the Miami warrior is not willing to do, as of yet, is view the man who just respectfully called him out last week and who he hopes to fight, next, as an enemy. In fact, Masvidal had nothing but positive things to say about Diaz after the California fighter beat Anthony Pettis at UFC 241 and challenged the American Top Team (ATT) member to a scrap.

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There are no two hotter, active and exciting fighters in the UFC right now than Masvidal and Diaz, and the two are in agreement that they should fight one another. The only thing that could stand in the way of that fight, according to what Masvidal told reporters inside the ATT facility this week, is the UFC continuing to pay him and Diaz too little:

“Let’s see how the UFC plays. Are they going to play hardball, or are they going to give into what the fans f------ want,” he said.

“If the fight doesn’t get made it isn’t because I don’t want it or Nate doesn’t want it, it’s because we’re not getting what we want. It’s sad to say. That would be the only way it doesn’t go down.”

Masvidal’s speaking of he and Diaz in solidarity with one another as they both try to get a fan-friendly and lucrative fight made is striking. The UFC often successfully pits fighters against one another in public rhetoric and behind the scenes, with athletes parroting president Dana White’s often disparaging talk of fighters when they criticize the promotion’s pay and treatment of fighters, or are negotiating for a new contract.

Furthermore, the UFC often rewards fighters who spew hateful vitriol at their fellow fighters the most loudly and consistently with more attention and bigger matchups. The result is an emergent culture within MMA where fighters insult one another’s abilities and accomplishments, see each other as competitors for cash outside of the cage, and blame one another for fights falling through or their not getting certain opportunities.

Masvidal’s rhetoric marks a shift from that, as he not only repeatedly spoke of he and Diaz as a collective seeking to bargain with the UFC for the best deal they can get to fight one another, but also put on a promoter’s hat and lauded Diaz’s accomplishments and abilities.

“We can both make money. Because, I’m as popular as I’ve ever been, same with Nate, you know? So, it makes sense on the financial side,” Masvidal continued.

“But, on the side of being a fan, who doesn’t want to see these two dogs get locked in the cage and go? Which one is more dog at the end of the day? Let’s find out. There’s theories out there. There’s a lot of back and forth talking, let’s just find out. Let’s just find out. Who is the biggest dog in the division? Because that fight is going to tell you who the biggest f------ dog in the division is, you know? So, it’s a no-brainer.

“Me and Nate ain’t even going to have to do too much press conferences. The fight speaks for itself, man. People are just going to want to see that s---. You’re going to want to pay your hard-earned money to see that, so you’re going to have to compensate me for that.”

Masvidal had no apparent difficulty speaking of both his own personal ambition as well as connecting Diaz to himself. In this way, the outspoken knockout artist displayed awareness that UFC athletes are not just a class unto themselves, but that they can also be a class for themselves, advocating on their own behalf in a way that recognizes their fates are connected and that they deserve much better pay and treatment than they currently receive.

Masvidal, a real tough guy’s tough guy, didn’t even have a problem admitting that Diaz’s recognition was appreciated.

“Definitely. Definitely, you know? Nate’s always done his thing. Win or lose, I always cheer for the guys [who] give it their all,” he said.

“Just f------ give it your all. I’m always a fan of those guys. This dude’s always giving it his all. I thought he beat Conor [McGregor] the second one, too, so he’s got two wins on Conor. Not a lot of people got that. It’s going to be a fireworks fight. I’m going for the off button. I know Nate’s going for the off button. Let’s just do it.”

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