It’s no secret that Strikeforce seems destined to dissolve, with most of the notable fighters, and maybe some less notable ones, moving over to parent company Zuffa LLC’s primary promotion, the UFC.

Zuffa, near the beginning of 2011, purchased Strikeforce in an obvious attempt to further consolidate the balance of professional MMA power into the UFC.  However, since the Strikeforce deal with Showtime was to remain intact, Strikeforce operated in a “business as usual” fashion, putting on its biggest year ever with sixteen events in 2011.

And 2011 was a great year for many Strikeforce fighters, including Jorge Masvidal.

Masvidal is a top lightweight contender who has fought no less than three fights per year from 2005 to 2011.   He entered Strikeforce in March 2011, earning two wins by the fall, which earned him a title shot against perennial lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez in December to finish the year.

Following his decision loss to Melendez, Masvidal experienced a seven-month gap until his next fight, which came in July, versus Justin Wilcox.  The only problem is that he now has nothing on the books and isn’t sure when he will.

“I’m only going to have one fight this whole year, and I’m 27,” Masvidal said in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner.  “This sucks, man.  This is my income, and I can’t feed my kids like this.”

Masvidal, like many full-time fighters, provides for his family through his fighting career.  Without fights, he has no income.  For seven years, he has had a reasonable number of bouts, but the Zuffa shake-up is hurting him.  However, he is not the only one in this boat.

“Plenty of dudes are in my same situation,” revealed Masvidal.

While 2011 was a great year for Strikeforce, 2012 has paled in comparison.  In 2012, Strikeforce has so far only produced seven events versus the thirteen that had taken place by this time last year.  Granted, the divisions have shrunk a bit with some fighters already crossing over to the UFC, but the lightweight division is still really stacked in Strikeforce.

“There’s too many fighters under contract for the number of shows,” explained Masvidal.

Many people thought there was a great injustice being done when Jon Jones refused the Chael Sonnen challenge to keep UFC 151 alive this month, because many guys missed a paycheck they were counting on.  Imagine entire divisions of fighters having a great year in 2011, only to be completely deflated with the lack of fights in 2012.  It’s disheartening.

Is there room in the UFC for some of these fighters to cross over now?  Probably, considering how thin some of the cards have been, but Zuffa is trying to honor its contract between Strikeforce and the Showtime cable network.  It isn’t helping any of these career fighters, however.

As for contractual obligations preventing the move from happening earlier, Masvidal said, “I was in there before UFC purchased Strikeforce, so I don’t think there’s anything in there that would prevent that from happening.”

If Masvidal did get to move over, he would definitely get the money he needs to continue supporting his family, but what about the wait for a title shot?

At this point, it may be a long road, but a few shake-ups could shorten that.  Outside of the obvious fact that the sport has been plagued with injuries, a few big fights could help.  If Masvidal could get a shot at someone like a Clay Guida or Jim Miller, while the other guys like Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz are all taking each other out, he could get right back into the mix.

Jorge Masvidal (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

“Oh man, there are plenty of people I’d like to smash up,” Masvidal admitted.  And that’s not specific to lightweight, as Masvidal has taken on welterweights in the past.  “I’m a lightweight, but right now, I’ll do anything for a paycheck.”

That’s the sign of a guy who wants to fight.  However, for a veteran career fighter who has family obligations, the money still has to be big-stage money.

While offers have rolled in from smaller promotions, Masvidal stated, “For the amount of money they’re offering, it was outrageous.  It would basically be like fighting for no money.  If I’m not in UFC or Strikeforce, I won’t be fighting much longer.  I have too much pride, man.”

For now, it’s just a waiting game.

“I want to take fights.  I’m going to see what’s going on with the UFC and Strikeforce.  I want to see what happens in November when they start to make decisions, you know.”

However, this doesn’t mean he will stop training.  Masvidal is a consummate professional, and while his current situation is in flux, he’s not going to let himself get weak.

“I’m just going to keep running and lifting to keep my body strong,” Masvidal said.  “I want to be training.  I want to keep my mind ready, and I want to keep my body ready.”

That’s great news considering the tremendous potential of this talented 23-7 fighter.

Masvidal will hopefully get back on track once Zuffa’s organizational consolidation is complete.  Unfortunately, for now, Masvidal and many other fighters are in a holding pattern waiting for that next call.  That is heartbreaking for talented fighters that are not built to sit and wait.

Top Photo: Jorge Masvidal (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator