Burns vs Masvidal: Is UFC 287 Masvidal’s Last Shot?



Burns vs Masvidal: Is UFC 287 Masvidal’s Last Shot?

On a stacked card at UFC 287, Gilbert Burns vs Jorge Masvidal might be most highly anticipated fight at the Miami-Dade Arena come Saturday night.

Fighting in his hometown of Miami, Jorge Masvidal faces a make-or-break fight in the co-main event. A win over the in-form Gilbert Burns can launch ‘Gamebred’ right back into the mix for a welterweight title shot, while a loss will all but end his dreams of UFC gold.

Burns vs Masvidal is one of the most lop-sided betting fights on the entire card, with the hometown favourite a +300 underdog according to most bookmakers. Here’s a look at Masvidal’s path to victory.

Masvidal Needs to Turn Around Losing Streak Fast

The 38-year-old veteran has been a part of the UFC for a decade now but is on the biggest losing streak of his illustrious career. 

A unanimous decision loss in the main event of UFC 251 to Kamaru Usman was followed by a brutal KO loss a year later at the hands of the then title holder. Colby Covington then dispatched of his bitter rival at 272 in a lopsided decision victory.

As a result, Masvidal is now at a crossroads in his career. The BMF champion hinted on the UFC 287 edition of “Countdown” another loss could spell the end of his UFC career.

“This could be the last one. If I lose, I’m pretty much calling it quits. But a win against Gilbert means that things are headed in the right direction, so if I roll the dice and I do everything right, I’m going for it all. For one title, or many titles,” Masvidal said.

It’s one of a number of fascinating storylines about Burns vs Masvidal that make the fight so exciting. Gamebred is back in his hometown where he made his name in street fight after street fight under the wing of one of the biggest names in combat sport – Kimbo Slice.

Masvidal’s backyard brawls helped make him the fighter he is today, with 51 professional fights under his belt in a 20-year long career. If this is the final Octagon walk of Masvidal’s career, the UFC will be losing one its biggest and most marketable stars.

The Rise of Jorge Masvidal

Jorge hasn’t always been a crowd favourite superstar in comparison to the likes of Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey or Jon Jones. 

Early in his career, Masvidal could never seem to get over the hump of that ‘springboard’ fight to propel him into contention. A split decision loss to Al Iaquinta in 2015 put the brakes on his rise up the rankings, as did losses against Demian Maia and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in 2017.

Masvidal made his statement with a spectacular comeback KO of Darren Till in London to end that two-fight skid, stunning a sold out O2 arena in London and pouring cold water on one of the hottest UFC prospects in Till.

If this statement wasn’t enough, Masvidal then produces arguably the most iconic knockout in UFC history, a flying knee to the chin of Ben Askren in just five seconds at UFC 239. It remains to this day the fastest UFC knockout, and chances are that record will remain for the foreseeable.

‘Gamebred’ had truly announced his arrival, and his fight for the newly created ‘BMF’ belt against Nate Diaz was one of the most highly anticipated fights of the last five years. A doctor’s stoppage after the third round of that fight ended what had been an absolute war between two future Hall of Famers.

This run truly transformed Masvidal’s career, as he quickly established himself as on the UFC biggest stars without even having a shot at the Welterweight title. Title victories are often the key to a fighter’s stardom, as shown most recently by Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards, but Masvidal’s no nonsense style and charisma were the perfect recipe for his meteoric rise in the eyes of UFC fans.

Burns vs Masvidal: A Crossroads for Both Fighters

Every UFC fight provides a ‘crossroads’ element, the idea that the winner moves forward towards a title shot, or inches up the rankings at the expense of the loser. Burns vs Masvidal provides that and more.

For Gilbert Burns, the Brazilian is arguably in the best form of his career. ‘Durinho’ made a statement at UFC 283 with a first-round submission win over Neil Magny and lost an agonizingly close decision to Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 273.

The winner of Burns vs Masvidal will propel themselves into a legitimate position to ask for a title shot. Colby Covington has made the most noise since Leon Edward’s defended his title against the once unbeatable Usman in London, but Covington hasn’t entered the Octagon in over a year. As a result, there is no obvious candidate for Edward’s next opponent.

Speaking to the UFC cameras, ‘Gamebred’ knows the importance of this fight, but believes his experience to this point has transformed him into the best possible version of himself; 

“I think I’m at my best right now, my mental, my physical… now I’ve got to go out there and prove it.

“I’ve got my back up against the wall but I get to start my resurrection here in Miami, Dade County, the city that birthed me, that made me, that moulded me, so I’m more than excited. April 8, I give it all I got and when I win we keep rolling that dice until we get that f****** belt. Let’s go.”

In Burns vs Masvidal, the Miami native knows his career is on the line.

Bren Gray is our resident Kiwi, and has been writing about sports since he could first string words together. He first fell in love with boxing when David Tua took on Lennox Lewis in 2000, and hasn't looked back since.