After a flying knee put an end to their welterweight grudge match at UFC 239 on Saturday, Masvidal celebrated by dropping down to taunt a KO’d Askren and then he proceeded to imitate his fallen opponent’s grim pose. Was this a blatant disregard for sportsmanship or a prime example of MMA showmanship?
Unsurprisingly, Masvidal leans towards the latter interpretation and he also saw it as a teachable moment for Askren, the fans, the media, and anyone else who enables fighters to trash talk without fear of retribution. This was Masvidal’s way of letting everyone know that retribution could be waiting for you as soon as you step into the cage.
“There’s not too many people that I’ve disliked, I have over 50 pro fights, and he’s one of them,” Masvidal said at the evening’s post-fight press conference. “He talked about my manhood, talked about my culture, my ethnicity, where do we draw—Why do certain people get to do stuff online? So you can do anything, everything is cool before a fight, you’re allowed to do and say whatever you want... talking about people’s religions, wife, even kids, that’s cool? But after a fight I’m not allowed to showboat and rub it in your face so you and guys like you can see it and be like, ‘Maybe I don’t talk so much shit because when I cross one of these real motherf*ckers, they’re going to make me pay for it. They’re going to embarrass the shit out of me."
“And it’s not over for Ben either. He still has to deal with me. If I see him at Whole Foods, I’m a still slap that dude up, ‘cause I don’t like him.”
Masvidal’s chosen disposition means that he’s not going to go over the top for a title shot, though he did say plainly that he felt he should be next to challenge for the welterweight championship. After seeing uneven results in the first few years of his UFC career, Masvidal has now won five of his last seven fights with finishes of Askren, Darren Till, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
He believes that’s enough to earn him a title opportunity and to be well compensated for it.
“It should have been mine, but I don’t know. I’m not going to sell my soul, I know they go around sometimes telling, ‘You got the title shot or you’ and then see who gives them the best deal. I want to get paid for my services,” Masvidal said.”
“I think I bring a very real thing to this fighting thing and that’s just baptizing people. I’m not God, but I’m putting mother*ckers in another planet when I’m done with them.”
Despite the harsh words that Masvidal and Askren had for each other in the lead-up to their fight, and the even harsher means by which Masvidal dealt with Askren when the day of reckoning came, “Gamebred” insisted that he has no real animosity towards Askren outside of the context of fighting.
If anything, he sees Askren as a means to an end and any pleasure he felt from knocking Askren out was a mere bonus.
“It wasn’t personal,” Masvidal said. “I just don’t like the dude, I knew how to get inside his head and that’s it. It’s nothing personal for me, it’s just business. I’m here to get these checks, get paid, and make sure that I put enough money away for my kids to go university, so that belt is what’s next. I’m glad I got to end that dude.”
Any suggestion that Masvidal may have gone too far with his post-fight antics appeared to be validated by UFC president Dana White having a conversation with Masvidal inside the cage after the fight. However, Masvidal said that the boss simply wanted him to take it a little bit easier on Askren.
“‘Be nice to him.’ That’s what I remember. I’m sure [White] said a couple of other things, but he was just like, ‘Be nice to Ben, be nice to him,’ Masvidal said. “I was telling him, ‘Why’d you put me in a fight with this guy?’ Because I believe and some of the media also believed that this was a step back for me. I’ve been fighting f*cking—I fought Yves Edwards over 10 years ago. That guy’s a f*cking fighter, that guy’s a stud. You guys might not know who Yves Edwards is, if you don’t, shame on you, go do some research. I’ve been fighting badasses for a long time."
“To get put in with this guy was a setback in a way, I’m glad though, I’m gonna steal that f*cking hype and go fight for my title now because they were saying this is the greatest grappler ever. I think Joe Rogan said it’s like grappling two guys. All the media was behind this guy, he’s what? 38-0, whatever the f*cking bullshit record he has? So he’s obviously something in the grappling community, but to me as far as fighting goes, he doesn’t rank in my top-10 victories.”