Jorge Masvidal hasn’t had time to enjoy retirement. He’s already made the transition for life after the Octagon.
Following his loss to Gilbert Burns at UFC 287, Masvidal made his announcement in the Octagon. It was the right time—it was his fourth straight defeat after beating Nate Diaz to win the “BMF belt” at UFC 244—and doing it in front of his hometown crowd of Miami, it was the right location as well.
Although he won’t be headlining any more events, Masvidal’s will now be creating the fight cards in his new full-time role, fight promoter. The latest installment of Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA, falls on Cinco de Mayo. According to Masvidal, Gamebred MMA is the first and only professional bareknuckle MMA league in the U.S. The fights, at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, FL, will also be the first-ever sanctioned bareknuckle MMA fight in that state.
According to the promotion, Gamebred MMA will follow the Unified Rules of MMA, but, of course, without gloves, with all bouts being three five-minute rounds.
Headlining the card will be former UFC vet and Bellator heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson vs Dillon “Bad Boy” Cleckler. Also on the card will be a pair of ex-UFC stars: PFL light heavyweight champion Emiliano Sordi vs. Markus Perez. The entire Gamebred card will stream live on Masvidal’s YouTube and Facebook pages, starting at 8pm ET. (It will also be streaming on the Gamebred Promotions YouTube and Facebook pages as well). The entire card includes:
- Roy Nelson vs. Dillon Cleckler
- Emiliano Sordi vs. Markus Perez
- Donovan Beard vs. Handesson Ferreira
- Joe Penefeil vs Irwin Rivera
- Jamahl Tatum vs. Carl Seumanutafa
- Sean Soriano vs. Ago Huskic
- Anthony Njokuani vs. James Freeman
- Darion Abbey vs. Frank Tate
- Charles Bennett vs. Keith Speed
- Fidel Paulino vs. Alexander Schenk
- Juan Alvarez vs. Chris Wingate
- Ryan Kuse vs. Drew Morais
This will be the fourth Gamebred Bareknuckle event, , with the first on in May of 2021 in Biloxi, MX. with doors opening at 5pm EST the day of. Fans will also be able to tune in with the first fight starting at 6pm EST and the main card beginning at 8pm EST.
With the card a few days away, the newly retired MMF champion explains to M&F what it’s going to take to make Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA an organization that will continue to attract top talent going forward.
Was there any hesitancy to announce your retirement following UFC TK?
You know, I told my trainer, “Cut the gloves,” and he was like, “No, don’t do it. Just wait.” I was like, this is where it started, this is where it should end, in my city [Miami]. Let’s do it like that. Gilbert was a great fighter, but I feel in. my prime I could’ve beaten him. But I just don’t have the same motor speed from mind to body. So on a pro level, if I can’t fight with the world’s best, what am I doing. There’s a lot of guys who I could beat up for days, but I signed up to fight the best in the world, and I can’t play at that top speed no more.
So what’s gonna make Jorge Masvidal the best promoter in the game?
There’s a lot of great promoters but I’ll be different one than all of them, because I’m one of the few who actually fought from all stages—I’ve worn every hat there is to wear in fighting, from corner man to sparring partner, training partner. I’ve given guys professional business, you know, so I’ve been like an unofficial manager for a lot of friends in the sport.
Promoting is one of the things that I like the most—my first thing that I liked the most is obviously competing, fighting. The second thing I liked the most is the promotion. I’m going to take off with my own different route and saucing.
None of these promoters have and you can see that happen because I have a different mindset. I have different visions in my eyes that I see from my 20 years of providing things I want to fix up on the pro fighter side things that means nothing that would have liked maybe a little bit more attention to.
So why bare knuckle?
I get that question a lot. I started in bare knuckle — a lot of people first got their buzz about me in bare knuckle. So I always felt like I wanted to start a bare knuckle League and see how it would go there is no bare knuckle MMA. And when you’re talking about what is the closest thing to like, real-life combat, this is pretty much it. And it’s not just for strikers, but also for grappling because now you don’t have these big, bulky gloves on top of the pad that kind of messes with your. So even for grapplers it’s more realistic to actual combat, and I just love it. At the end of the day, the finishes go through the roof when you take the gloves off, whether it be a knockout or submission.
Is everyone ready for bare knuckle fighting? Is it as brutal as the name implies?
It might even be worse than it sounds. If you’re not into that, then I get it, you know, you can go there’s 100 other sports that you might be into, you know, but this is like that, that grit and desire—and violence. So it’s not it’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea at the beginning, buy it’ll slowly catch on in,
Is the world big enough for another fight league?
Definitely, especially one like mine. You look at the No. 1 promoter in the world, Dana White. The No. 2 guy in promoting doesn’t have the social media following like Dana White. So I’ll just tsunami over all of them when it comes to attracting fight fans. Some of them might be just more fans of me for political views or things that I’ve done, but for the most part about 85% of my audience are fight fans. So when you’re talking about promoting, it’s like, there’s nobody messing with me in that field. Besides Dana White, of course, who is king of kings of promotion.
How do you sell your league to fighters?
We talked to their team and get some numbers on paper, and once we come to agreements, the next thing is to put it on paper to make it happen.
You know, a lot of these fighters also know that I have my good cred—I’ve been fighting for 20 years of real fighting and they know the platform that I bring. They know we’ll be bringing as many eyeballs as possible to the sport.
Was a Cinco De Mayo fight card by design?
Oh yeah. Our fight will be kind of a kickoff of Formula One, which is here in South Florida [this weekend]. It’s like welcoming F1 to South Florida with a bang. We have Big Country, Roy Nelson—19 finishes, 16 coming by the way of knockout to the face—versus Dillon Cleckler. We have some other big boys as well on the show. We’re pumped.