The Film Room: Jorge Masvidal

By Kevin Wilson Mar 12, 2019
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Jorge Masvidal will return to the Octagon for the first time since 2017 when he takes on rising welterweight contender Darren Till in the UFC Fight Night 147 headliner on Saturday in London. “Gamebred” was on the cusp of a title shot before suffering consecutive losses to Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson. Now, he seeks to reclaim his place among the divisional elite at Till’s expense.

Masvidal’s exploits are in the spotlight in this installment of The Film Room.

Masvidal enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom, from fighting on the streets of Miami to becoming one of MMA’s most clever strikers. Although he started in kickboxing, his style adheres more to muay Thai, with his upright stance, the constant bouncing of his lead foot and his tendency to rely on the basics. Rather than overwhelming opponents with options, Masvidal overwhelms them with perfect timing and perfection of the basics. Most of his punches are simple 1-2s and hooks, and his kicks are standard round kicks to the head and body. However, Masvidal’s timing and ability to bait opponents into his strikes are what make him so dangerous. He will also throw in the occasional jumping knee or spinning heel kick to keep them guessing, but overall, his game is simple, short and sweet.

With a muay Thai-like base, Masvidal is an active kicker, especially to the body. Most of his kicks are simple round kicks to the body, but again, the timing and angles allow him to land easily. If he was just throwing them with no setup or tricks behind them, they would never connect, but he is a master at pumping out a jab or feint to get the opponent to guard his head before coming in with a kick to the ribs. It would be promising to see him use this same tactic to attack the head more, but the body kicks work wonderfully.

Fighters who rely on the basics must have a good jab that they can use in a variety of ways. They also must be able to use it as a range finder for their offense, as a counter to stop aggressive opponents and as a feint to draw out reactions from them. Masvidal is proficient at all three types of jabs and uses that skill as the base of his striking game. Without his jab, Masvidal would have nothing on the feet.

Masvidal also excels on the counter, although he can get too patient at times and has lost a few split decisions that could have gone his way had he been more active. Just like his leading attacks, most of his counters are simple straights and hooks, but he is quite good at something you do not see often in MMA: catching kicks. He is proficient at slapping away the opponent’s leg with his lead hand before coming back with a right-hand counter, as seen in his fight with Donald Cerrone.

Masvidal has not worked from the clinch much since joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but he has proven to have amazing killer instincts when operating in close quarters against the cage, especially when the finish is near. Till has struggled in the clinch in the past, and it seems likely that Masvidal will attempt to exploit this weakness by closing the distance and striking more in tight spaces.

The biggest complaint with Masvidal is that he sometimes falls into counter mode and sits back waiting for the opponent to come to him. This may work great against Till, who is usually an aggressive fighter, but Masvidal has some glaring holes in his defense that the Brit might exploit. Masvidal is wide open to strikes up the middle since he keeps his guard high, which also leaves his body open to being hit. In addition, Masvidal struggles to deal with opponents who are constantly striking at angles, like Thompson -- a reality that could spell trouble for him against Till.

The one major intangible in this fight is the grappling. Masvidal is by no means a grappler, but he has shown he can dominate opponents on the ground when a situation calls for him to do so, and he has had multiple fights in which he chose to grapple instead of strike. It would not be surprising to see Masvidal shoot for takedowns early against Till in an attempt to drain his cardio and confidence for later in the fight. Advertisement


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