With nearly 20 years of experience in combat sports, Jorge Masvidal knows a thing or two about the fight business. While he's still got a few years left of competing in his future plans, "Gamebred" is also preparing himself for life after those days are done.
The 37-year-old Florida resident doesn't plan on leaving the industry after his fighting days are done. Instead, he's currently taking on the role of promoter for both iKON Fighting Championship, as well as the bare-knuckle MMA organization Gamebred Fighting Championship.
"I love it," Masvidal told MMA Underground. "It was very natural. Since I started fighting and I don't know, maybe like 10 years into my career, I was like, 'There's a lot of things I would change as a promoter, that I'd take away, make my own formula,' and that's what I'm doing now. I basically created that.
"I'm going to get fighters to fight for me because fighters are like, 'Man, I like how this guy sets up the fights. I like the sponsorships he brings in. I like the shows that he brings in, the attention that he brings in, so that that's basically it, you know? Just go around the country finding the best up-and-coming guys to fight the best up-and-coming guys and let them have fun."
Masvidal said the transition to the business side of combat sports wasn't too difficult given his understanding of the business. However, he does admit he's gained appreciation of the myriad issues that pop up when organizing live events.
"I mean, I've always had, like, promoter friends, matchmaker friends," Masvidal said. "I've always been very hand-in-hand with the business and all aspects from the beginning because I wanted to know, 'Am I getting a fair pay?' I start talking, asking questions, you know, so through that, I develop relationships, then now that I'm in it, myself, I know so much. Before I ever even officially became a promoter, I really had a good idea of what I was getting myself into, right? So what I can definitely tell you is that the promoting business is a heartbreak business.
"I've had main events, co-main events a week, 10 days before just fall out. Out of everybody's hands. Not that the fighter didn't want to fight. Car crashes. Freaking just some crazy stuff has happened, like, very short time, and I'm just like, 'OK, next.' You know, you get upset, you freak out, I grab my f-cking phone, I throw it across the f-cking room ... but then once that's all over, it's like, 'All right, next city, next opponent, who's going to headline that? Let's just get to it, you know? So in that sense, yeah, it's very heartbreaking."
What's clear in his time as a promoter thus far is that Masvidal intends to be heavily involved in all aspects of his promotions. This past weekend, he was on the ground in Georgia as tickets went on sale for iKON FC 4, where he made multiple stops to help raise awareness of the Aug. 5 event at Savannah Convention Center that streams live on UFC Fight Pass.
"Gamebred" said that will remain a constant moving forward.
"Anything that my name is involved in that you see my name on, I'm very hands on," Masvidal said. "I'm not going to tell you I'm picking every fight on every card, but on the main card, I have something to do with every fight that's on the main card from the main event all the way down, whether it's a 'yes' or 'no' or 'I don't think so' or 'Hey, I know a guy that will be a better fit.'
"I'm very involved in the promoting. Obviously, I'm the one that's going out there. ... It's me, you know, and I'ma get after it, man. I'm a worker."
As for his in-cage ambitions, Masvidal is hoping to book a massive fight later this year with another superstar of the sport. He's mentioned both Conor McGregor and Gilbert Burns as potential opponents, though he'd also like to remain in consideration for another shot at the UFC's welterweight title, particularly if Leon Edwards is able to upset reigning champion Kamaru Usman at August's UFC 278 event.
Until then, Masvidal will keep himself busy with his newest venture, as he seeks the best up-and-coming talent in the sport and looks to give them an opportunity to elevate themselves to the MMA's highest levels.
"One of the main characteristics I look for is the dog in somebody," Masvidal said. "Winning or losing, are you still going to keep giving it your all? I like athletes to have talent, but when a talented guy is a dog, it's different, you know? And I'll explain – like, by a dog, you hurt somebody, they want to put them away. They're hurt, they're tired, don't care. They're still going to come forward. They're going to fight. Whether they win or lose, they're just going to fight, and that's what I really, really like.
"You know, obviously, I want spectacular knockouts or great submissions, but I just want those guys to never take no for an answer. Don't quit. Whether they're a great athlete or not, it's fighting. This is the one thing that if you don't have the best three-pointer or the best 40-yard dash, it doesn't matter. If you're a hard worker, if you get after it, if you're attritious in practice, if you're relentless, you can go very far in the sport, and I love those dogs, man. I really like the dogs."
This story first published at SI.com/MMA.