BILOXI, Miss. — Anyone who knows the backstory of Jorge Masvidal’s introduction to fighting, shouldn’t be surprised that the UFC’s first BMF Champion is now promoting bareknuckle fights. Following an amazing career that spanned over 2 decades, Masvidal has geared his focus towards his Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA company, which will host its sixth installment in Biloxi, Mississippi on November 10th. The card will be headlined by Nelson and Mississippi’s own, Belcher, but the entire card is loaded from top to bottom. Masvidal admits that he’s better served being a full-time promoter, opposed to juggling a career while wearing his promoters’ cap. Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA 6 seems to be a clear indication of that notion.
Masvidal talks to Zenger News about why this event will be their most talked about event to date.
Zenger: Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA have managed to put together what appears on paper to be the best bareknuckle card to date. How did Gamebred Bareknuckle 6 card come together?
Masvidal: We have been dialed in and hyper focused on this card for like 2 months now, about a month before [Fabricio] Werdum and JDS [Junior Dos Santos] was official. We have been planning it out. We had some great opportunities; Alan Belcher was a free agent right around the time we needed him to be. Roy Nelson was healthy, in the gym training every day, and then everything after that fell into place. We got some other guys from the area like, “Hey, I see you’re not under contract anymore, what do you want to do?” One after another these guys were saying, yes. I think we have over 12 UFC veterans fighting on this card. I feel in my heart this will be the best card we’ve put together. And the last card was amazing from the prelims to the main event, there was action everywhere. The main event had a little bit of shyness, but every fight before that, those guys went to war. We had a million views that night, like 75,000 live streams watching on my YouTube channel. We broke more records than Bellator and PFL combined had ever done. We are in the infancy stages, but we’re making some big moves. Come November 10th, this will be our most talked about event.
Zenger: You’re heading into your sixth event, what have you learned along the way as a promoter?
Masvidal: Definitely a lot about the backend. How we cut deals. A lot of the promoting… one of the things I wanted to bring in having fought for 20 years, I wanted to treat fighters well, and make things as efficient as possible for them. If I’m going to have them do interviews, cool, but I don’t want them to have to drive an hour this way, and then 20 minutes that way. No, I want them to go into the room, they’re going to chill, have some food there, do 2-3 hours of interviews. Those are the things I think about. I want to make sure the fighters can get there and just fight. They don’t have to worry about anything. And they will also get treated with respect. That is first and foremost, to take care of these fighters. Aside from that, my staff that helps me get things together. We gotta get flights, medicals, transportation. I have learned a lot in a very short time.
Zenger: Do you feel like you’re able to do more as a promoter now that you’re retired as an active fighter?
Masvidal: One hundred percent. The time that I can give now… not just the time, but the quality of time. Back then, I would finish the second session of the day, I was a little groggy and tired. Maybe I’m low on my calories as well, maybe I didn’t research a guy enough before I booked him on a card. I have more energy now that I’m not draining myself training. From that aspect, it’s been beneficial.
Zenger: You never showed nerves before a fight, is it more nerve racking as a promoter than a fighter?
Masvidal: A combination. JDS-Werdum, at the weigh-ins, I was nervous, bro. Not in a bad way, but I was jittery like, “It’s happening.” Me and my partner thought about if we could make it happen, two ex-heavyweight champions, and then 4 months later, we are on this stage, and they are getting ready to throw down. It just hit me, and I started to get nervous. At my weigh-ins and my fights, you are right, I didn’t have a lot of nerves. This is what I do. If Michael Jordan was going to play basketball, he’s not nervous. He’s going to play basketball. If Messi is going to go play soccer, he’s going to go play soccer. I don’t really get nervous for my fights, but as a promoter, I get a little bit more nervous.
Zenger: Both Roy Nelson and Alan Blecher have had a lot of success during the early stages of their bareknuckle careers. This main event seems to have fireworks written all over it. What are you expecting on November 10th?
Masvidal: I know both of these competitors well. I was doing everything to get this fight signed. They really didn’t asks for too much because they are both just great people to work with, in and out of the ring. They just wanted to scrap. I wanted to make this fight happen. I’ve known Alan Belcher for a long time. I did a training camp with one of my teammates who he was competing against. I trained with my teammate for 6 weeks mimicking Belcher. I followed him his whole career. When he stopped fighting and he came back boxing, very polished, chin down, pivoting, feinting, and moving. I was like, this is a completely different guy. He was already a stud in the UFC.
We all know Roy Nelson. He is the coolest guy in the room. Dodging bullets and then gives you one right hand that will get the people’s heart rate up. He’s just breathing regularly and then all of a sudden, he finds that heat sinker that melts people. It’s crazy because you look at him and you’re like, this guy is a heavyweight? You gotta be kidding. He is as mean as it gets when it comes to fight. Looking at his structure, this guy is made for bareknuckle. He got in the ring with a 255-pound guy that can crack. I was right there hearing these shots. This dude was letting loose on his face. I’m talking with Roy afterwards and there is not a scratch on him. He had this ginormous dude clocking him in the face for 3 minutes and he didn’t have any damage. I knew he was built for it. He has this mutated knuckle that’s 3 times bigger than any other knuckle. Roy’s built for bareknuckle.
Zenger: I can hear your enthusiasm when discussing coming back to Mississippi. What is it about that state that made you want to bring this absolutely loaded card there?
Masvidal: Mississippi will always have a special place in my heart. We threw our first card there right after the pandemic. It was one of the only places that we can do it. First show was a sellout. We didn’t expect that. It was only 1,800 seats, but it was amazing. It allowed for the next show to happen. We made so much money with that event that said, we have to do this again. We did it again. If it’s not our third, it’s our fourth time going to Mississippi. I love the Mississippi crowd. They are some red-blooded people that are not playing around. Every time we go, it’s a great turnout. The energy in there is amazing. They understand fighting. They are saying a lot of intelligent things. They are very cultured in the fight world. Definitely looking forward to going back to Mississippi and shutting it down and giving them the best show that we could put together.
(Additional reporting provided by Joseph Hammond)
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