Strikeforce lightweight contender Jorge Masvidal (21-6) handed Billy Evangelista (11-1) his first professional loss on March 5 in Columbus, Ohio, and put himself in line for a marquee fight down the road, but Masvidal wasn’t entirely happy with his performance.
In earning the decision win, he negated Evangelista’s offense, but Masvidal told ProMMAnow.com that he should’ve done more damage while on the attack.
“My defense was on point like always,” Masvidal said. “My reflexes were on point. Maybe I got hit twice the whole fight.
“My offense, just my timing didn’t feel right. I don’t know if it was the ring rust or Billy was that tough. There were a couple of times I thought I had him hurt [a little] and should’ve capitalized.”
Evangelista has shown a willingness to go toe-to-toe with his opponents and Masvidal had hoped to put on a fan-friendly brawl. As the fight wore on, though, Evangelista became frustrated with the striking and tried to wrestle Masvidal to the mat — unsuccessfully. With his ability to pick guys apart on the feet and avoid damage, Masvidal always comes prepared to fend off the takedowns.
“I’ve fought plenty of strikers, and every striker I’ve fought, I always make them get frustrated,” Masvidal said. “I’m real hard to hit. I always [work on] my takedown defense and I knew he had a wrestling background.”
As for when he’d like to fight next, Masvidal wants to get back in there as soon as possible but also would like some time to rest his knee and let a few other nagging injuries heal up.
“I know they were talking about the April card, but I got a couple injuries,” Masvidal said. “At first I was supposed to fight Jan. 15, then it was pushed to Feb. on the Fedor undercard, then March. So I’ve been training hard since November 4th.”
While he has his eyes on the title, Masvidal still doesn’t have a preference for who he fights next as long as it moves him up the ladder and closer to his goal.
On Apil 9, Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez will defend his belt against Tatsuya Kawajiri and submission ace Shinya Aoki will face Lyle Beerbohm. If it ends up being one of those guys, that’s fine with Jorge, and so is a fight against Josh Thomson or K.J. Noons.
“If they tell me I got to fight Godzilla because he’s the number one guy, I’ll go kick Godzilla’s butt,” Masvidal said.
MMA judging: aggressiveness vs. effectiveness
With his counterfighting style, Masvidal has come up on the wrong end of some close scorecards before, including a controversial decision loss to Paul Daley. So even though the judges unanimously picked Masvidal over Evangelista, it’s worth noting that some had the fight quite close, something that Masvidal doesn’t quite understand.
“I don’t mean to sound like a jerk or super cocky, but the people that are scoring just somebody coming forward and throwing punches and missing, [maybe] they’re drunk or text messaging.
“If you throw five punches and miss five and the guy comes back with one punch or even two punches and hits you … it’s damage.”
Masvidal added, “You saw after the fight I didn’t have a blemish … his eye was pretty busted up.”
The aggressiveness vs. effectiveness debate came out full force following Diego Sanchez’s questionable win over Martin Kampmann at UFC on Versus 3. Masvidal saw that fight and gave his thoughts.
“The thing is you can’t let the guy put you up against the cage and throw, even though Martin wasn’t getting hit with a lot of those shots,” Masvidal said. “That’s why I like to move my head and make it known that someone missed clearly as opposed to hitting my arms.
“I also thought Kampmann won. I thought he lost the second round. The third was close but the shots he landed in the third were the more crisp and cleaner, the more damaging shots. This isn’t football where the points are structured, like, OK you get seven points if you cross this line. At the end of the day, everyone has their own opinion. I just [don’t think people always] get props for counter fighting, for moving backwards, using angles, and moving your head.”
Teammate, friend JZ Cavalcante leaves American Top Team
Right before the March 5 event, news surfaced that Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante — a close training partner and friend of Masvidal’s — and recent UFC signee Jorge Santiago had decided to leave American Top Team.
“When I heard about the news I was already in Ohio,” Masvidal said. “It was a bummer, because I’m good friends with JZ. He’s one of my best friends at American Top Team. He’s a guy that I [spar] with a lot. We’re the same weight and we both have styles that can help out each other.”
“Obviously they had differences with American Top Team. I don’t know exactly what went down … but JZ will still be my boy and everyone else that left as well.”
Jorge asked to thank the following: God, Raw State, Full Tilt Poker, Dan Lambert, American Top Team, South Miami Sports Performance, Carlene Hernandez, ML Management, Ray and Tina, Alexis Vila and all of his training partners.