Jorge Masvidal eyes UFC return, rips Leon Edwards: ‘He’s not a fighter’

Jorge Masvidal is eyeing a return to action in the second half of 2021 — and he’s already plotting out his climb back up the UFC’s welterweight ranks.

“Whoever’s in the top five available November or October, that’s who’s head I’m coming after,” Masvidal told reporters (via The MacLife) ahead of the debut of his bare-knuckle MMA promotion Gamebred Fighting Championship, which takes place Friday at the Biloxi Community Center in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Masivdal (35-15) lost back-to-back title bouts in his last two fights. Following a career-changing run of knockouts over Darren Till, Ben Askren, and Nate Diaz in 2019, “Gamebred” rode a surge of popularity into a last-second matchup against UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 251, which Masvidal lost via unanimous decision. In the rematch at UFC 261, Usman finished Masvidal via highlight-reel second-round knockout.

Still, the 36-year-old veteran remains one of the most popular fighters in the world at 170 pounds, and there is plenty of history between him and many of the best fighters in the division. One of those fighters is Leon Edwards, the UFC’s No. 3-ranked welterweight who Masvidal infamously attacked backstage in the “three-piece with a soda” incident at UFC on ESPN+ 5 in 2019. Edwards has called for a chance at revenge against Masvidal ever since.

When asked about Edwards’ latest win over Nate Diaz at UFC 264, Masvidal didn’t mince words about a performance that saw Edwards nearly seize defeat from the jaws of victory in the final minute after being rocked by a Diaz flurry as time expired.

“It was a good fight, good performance, I thought. Leon does what he does and he keeps asking for more money and more things, but he’s not a finisher. He’s not a fighter,” Masvidal said. “He was winning happily and he wasn’t willing to put himself in a risk to go out there and get those finishes. That’s why I don’t think he’s in the position that he wants to be in, because he’s not going out and fighting every second of every minute.

“So he’s a very skilled guy, but he just doesn’t have that grit and that meanness in him to go out there and beat up a top contender the way he should.”

Edwards ultimately won a one-sided decision over Diaz at UFC 263, though Diaz certainly noted how close he was to stealing one, stating in his post-fight press conference, “The fight was a wrap. In a real fight, in the real world, that fight’s a wrap. He was sleepwalking.”

Nonetheless, Edwards was among the list entertained by Masvidal about who his next opponent could be — a list that also counted both Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate.

“All of the above,” Masvidal said. “Whoever’s available October or November when I’m coming back, that’s who’s head I’m taking off. Whoever it is.”