Jorge Masvidal prefers fighters return to using their hands more and their mouths less.
The UFC welterweight fighter has been competing as a professional mixed martial artist since 2003, long enough to see the sport change multiple times. It went from fledgling fringe sport on the verge of shutting down to a sport on network television and carrying a $4 billion price tag for the purchase of the UFC last year.
With that comes change in the fighters.
“They’re not good at this,” Masvidal said, punching one hand with the other.
“But they’re good at this, this, this,” Masvidal said, using his hand to mimic someone talking. “And they’re getting rewarded for it.”
Masvidal, 32, voiced his displeasure during Wednesday’s media day for UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. He’ll fight Stephen Thompson (13-2-1) in a welterweight bout on the pay-per-view portion of Saturday’s fight card.
“I come from an era where action spoke louder than words. When I got into this sport, Randy Couture was fighting four times in one night, and Chuck Liddell was doing the same thing and guys were fighting,” said Masvidal (32-13). “They weren’t just talking [expletive]. I got into this sport before ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ When fighting wasn’t that appealing to people. It was just, you wanted to do it because that was the kind of competition you liked. And it didn’t matter if you were famous or got rich, you just wanted to fight.”
Talking with the lips instead of the fists does seem to help some fighters get over with the public and score the marketing push from the UFC. Lightweight champion Conor McGregor and recent interim title challenger Kevin Lee would be two recent examples. Both are talented fighters as well.
Some fighters are very good at capturing the public’s interest with outlandish interviews.
That great quote on the microphone after a fight becomes a video circulating through social media. It becomes a meme. A T-shirt. A mug. Marketing collateral. A clip for any number of repackaged materials for some future show.
Masvidal’s message was clear and simple on Wednesday: Shut up and fight.
“I’m about to fight … and these idiots put my name in their mouth,” Masvidal said. “Go put in some miles. Go fight. Go win. Go beat somebody notable. There’s so many guys, especially in my weight class just talking [expletive]. When it comes to the fight, they don’t even fight. They just stare at each other.”