When Jorge Masvidal won the BMF title against Nate Diaz at UFC 244 in November 2019, the belt had a designated spot at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla. So when Dustin Poirier signed to face Justin Gaethje in the main event of July’s UFC 291 event for the vacant BMF strap, Masvidal believed his teammate would be able to keep the belt at home.
But after a competitive first round, Gaethje landed a flush head kick in the second that sent Poirier to the canvas, which led to Masvidal wrapping the belt around Gaethje, and not his longtime teammate when the dust settled.
“S***, man. I’ve known my boy ‘DP’ for a minute, and we’ve been training out of American Top Team for a f****** long time,” Masvidal told MMA Fightinng ahead of Friday’s Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA event. “So, f***, it hurt because I 100 percent thought it was coming with us. Then after the first round, I’m like, ‘It’s alright, It’s alright, get him, get him,’ and then, bam.
“The fight happened, and that’s the fight world. I think Dustin is better than Gaethje, and I think if they fight again, Dustin could do that to Gaethje, and they could always keep splitting them like that. But that’s what happens in the fight game when you fight the elite level guys. These guys are the embodiment of BMF because they go for that finish. They can fight, man. And more so, they got that killer instinct to go for that kill, and that’s something that I always admire in a quality fighter, to go for that ending.”
Heading into the fight, and knowing that Masvidal would be in attendance in Salt Lake City to wrap the belt around the winner, Gaethje saw the setup as a potential badge of honor to have Poirier’s teammate wrap the title around his waist.
“Yeah, I want to make him do it,” Gaethje said prior to the event. “That would be nice. I know he’ll hate it, so I’ll love it that much more.”
Masvidal was aware of Gaethje’s attitude towards the crowning moment of the event, and completely understood why “The Highlight” was that way about it.
“That’s what he’s supposed to say to promote himself, but if he takes anything personally, he’s just a f****** idiot, right? Because of course I’m going to go for ‘DP,’” Masvidal said. “He’s my boy, he’s my brother. I know this guy inside of the training environment, I know the type of guys he is outside of the room. He’s a good person, man. He’s a good husband, he’s a good father, he’s a great teammate, he’s a good friend, so 100 percent I was with Dustin.”
Masvidal recently spoke with ESPN and made headlines by saying that Gaethje should defend the BMF title against him. “Gamebred” is a little over four months removed from announcing his retirement from the sport following his decision loss to Gilbert Burns at UFC 287, so the timeline for that potential bout would not be anytime soon, if ever.
But as most longtime fighters have experienced after turning the page to their next chapter of life and career, the itch to compete can stay strong. And in Masvidal’s case, if it does, and he feels he’s done everything he can do as a promoter, he’ll be ready to scratch that itch against Gaethje.
“Nothing personal against Gaethje. When I get bored of [retirement from fighting], of promoting and I retire [from that], a couple of years from now, we’ll fight for the BMF belt,” Masvidal said. “It’ll be fun. He is a hell of a fighter on the feet, he goes for the kill. I’m gonna try to snipe his head off. It would be a hell of a fight later on down the line. He’s going to do his thing now at 155, but later on we could fight, get that little paycheck.
“He’s doing his thing at  now, he’s going to go fight for that belt, I’m sure, I don’t know what his future is, but I’m not fighting right now. I’m promoting. That’s what I’m doing.”