In mixed martial arts, training camps provide something of a double-edged sword. On one hand, they help athletes prepare for their bouts physically and mentally. The athlete focuses on making weight and shoring up their skills, and their coaches help the athlete to get a grasp of what their foe wants to do once the cage door closes. On the other hand, the training camp and the weight cut serve as the grind that all athletes must endure en route to their success.

For former Strikeforce title contender and current UFC lightweight Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, enduring the grind means working hard in the gym and fighting past the hard knocks. Thus far, Masvidal’s hard work paid dividends toward wins over Justin Wilcox, Tim Means and The Ultimate Fighter 15 winner Michael Chiesa. Now, however, Masvidal gets to take on the challenge of 16-1 Rustam Khabilov at UFC Fight Night 31, otherwise known as UFC Fight for the Troops 3.

Prior to defeating Chiesa at UFC on Fox 9, Masvidal took the time to do something that may sound familiar to YouTube aficionados. In the past, athletes looking to grant fans the chance to witness some of their pre-fight training and conditioning often took to fighter blogs to showcase their day-to-day dealings. Now, however, video is the way to go. Enter MMA cult documentary director Genghis Con, who operates the aptly named Genghis Con Films.

“Genghis Con Films contacted [American Top Team],” Masvidal told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “We did a quick documentary, and they were doing a show, with a couple of the fighters, like ‘JZ’ [Cavalcante], Alexis Vila and a couple of other guys, called Miami Hustle. They asked me to be in it, and we did it.”

Masvidal (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Masvidal (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

In addition to creating the Miami Hustle series with Vila, Cavalcante and the American Top Team crew, Genghis Con Films holds responsibility for the manifestation of Fists of Fortune, which features the likes of Douglas Lima and others, as well as The BJJ Kumite with Lloyd Irvin. Con’s company decided to bring the Miami Hustle series back with much of the focus on Masvidal and give it a name that fit “Gamebred” well. It seemed only appropriate that Masvidal, who endures the hard knocks of his grind on a daily basis, would not only star in what Con dubbed Tales From The Grind, but also serve as executive producer to the show.

“It basically just focuses on one or two fighters and following the grind and the day-to-day stuff,” Masvidal explained. “So it shows everything from prior to the Michael Chiesa fight, the fight itself, and then after the fight, just giving you an insider tour of my fight life and my lifestyle.

“What’s featured on this upcoming episode has been me, Colby Covington and Nathan Coy. It shows a lot of fighters in and out of the gym and stuff, but episode two will feature Colby and how he’s coming up through the ranks. He’s 4-0 right now, so it’s showing him on the way up. It’s going to be a multi-part series. I won’t be in all of them. It’s going to focus on a lot of fighters. Genghis is trying to put the fighters out there for the world to see how it is, and also to capture the difference between fighters.”

Con stood on hand to watch as Masvidal aimed and succeeded at cementing his reputation as something of a prospect killer in the lightweight division. That win over Chiesa marked not only the first loss of the TUF 15 winner’s career, but it also marked the first time that anyone finished Chiesa. Coming in with a 9-0 record and a knack for submissions, Chiesa looked to pick up a big win over a talented, well-rounded competitor like Masvidal. Masvidal, though, had something different in mind.

“I was looking to knock him out with a couple of body shots,” Masvidal recalled. “That was my No. 1 plan. And, number two, I knew if I got him tired, I’d get him with a choke. I wanted to surprise Chiesa.”

After the fight, Masvidal told the UFC brass that he wanted back inside the Octagon as soon as possible. Then, he opted to take a well-earned vacation to recharge his motor so that he could compete at a moment’s notice without the risk of injury.

Three days into that vacation, he received a call about fighting at Fort Campbell in Hopkinsville, Ky., where the UFC planned on hosting its third Fight for the Troops event. Once he heard the mention of Khabilov’s name, Masvidal was quick to accept. But what of his opponent’s sambo background? What of the fact that the Russian, in his UFC debut, ragdolled Vinc Pichel into unconsciousness?

Masvidal (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Masvidal (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“I don’t prepare for my opponents. I just work on what I’m going to do. [Khabilov] has a great suplex, but who has he suplexed? Did he get an NCAA champion and suplex him? I don’t see what the big hype is until you do it to someone actually worth doing it to,” Masvidal said. “But come fight day, if I beat him, people will say he’s overrated or something dumb. I mean, this is not the first time I’m fighting someone who had one loss or came in undefeated, so I don’t care for anything anyone has to say.”

Prior to Chiesa, Masvidal’s last win over an undefeated prospect came in Strikeforce when he defeated Billy Evangelista in a three-round battle. That victory eventually led to a title shot against Gilbert Melendez, Strikeforce’s champion at the time. Fast forward to the present day, and Masvidal has a chance to derail another undefeated prospect. If he does, he will move one step closer to title contention and extend his UFC winning streak to three fights. In order to do so, however, he’ll need to identify the deficiencies in the Russian’s game.

“From what I know, he is not much of a striker,” Masvidal said. “He just looks to clinch and take you down using his sambo. He’s going to have to stay on his feet, and we’ll get to see how good his striking is.”

Not only does Masvidal get to show the world what he can do against a solid competitor in Khabilov, but he also gets to do so in front of the many members of the armed forces watching live from Fort Campbell, as well as millions around the world. Fighting in front of the troops means a lot of things to different athletes, but Masvidal looks at this as more than just a way to fight as soon as possible. In his mind and his heart, he merely wants to thank these men and women.

“This is one of the biggest honors bestowed on me, and I take this fight very seriously,” Masvidal admitted. “I thank the troops for keeping my neck safe—our necks safe—and they’re amazing. If I can just put on a better show and make sure they enjoy what they’re watching, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they’re entertained so that they go home or go back to their base thinking, ‘Man, that was a good show.’
“It’ll be fun and I’ll put on one of my better performances, I can tell you that much.”

With a win, Masvidal’s streak bumps up to four in a row overall and three in a row inside the Octagon. That arguably puts him somewhere close to the upper echelon of the division. Yet, he won’t call anyone out because he recognizes that the UFC will find him an adversary that will allow him to inevitably cash in on all of his grind by way of a UFC lightweight title fight opposite champion Anthony Pettis. For now, though, cashing in on the grind simply means taking to the Octagon on Nov. 6 and fulfilling his destiny.

“I think I was just born to do this,” he said. “As a child, I never cared to play with balls or [play] any other sports. I think they’re fascinating and I admire them, but growing up, it didn’t catch my attention. I played 10 games of basketball, which is a lot, and it just wasn’t my thing. The moment I walked into a boxing gym, I just fell in love with the atmosphere, the solitude of the sport, and the fact that you know you’re pushing yourself. I don’t have to rely on somebody to make a play. I rely on me, and that’s it. That’s one of the things that I loved about MMA.”

Jorge would like to thank God, his American Top Team coaches and training partners, Genghis Con and Genghis Con Films, and every person that helped him prepare thoroughly for this upcoming bout. Follow Masvidal on Twitter: @GamebredFighter

Photo: Jorge Masvidal (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.