Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is one of the most notable fighters on the UFC roster. And while Masvidal is plenty talented inside the Octagon, it is mostly his charisma and fanbase that get him big-ticket fights against some of the promotion’s best.
Regardless of which pro wrestling promotion you want to look at, the entertainers typically have a certain level of athleticism and skill. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be pros. But it’s the wrestlers with the charisma that develop a cult-like fan following and ascend to the top of their industry.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
MMA to pro wrestling isn’t a unique transition. It has been done many times before — and quite successfully in some cases (i.e. Brock Lesnar, Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock, etc.). But when it comes to working the mic and getting the crowd behind them, has there ever been a better MMA fit for pro wrestling than Masvidal?
It’s not like the UFC welterweight contender isn’t aware of this. Masvidal is one of the best self-promoters in MMA and has already used some pro wrestling-like antics to propel himself to the top of the UFC. As he alludes to at about the 2-minute mark of this video, Masvidal knew that’s what he needed to do to get a title shot. Now he’s had two (both with Kamaru Usman).
A few years later, after winning the BMF belt in a brawl with Nate Diaz, Masvidal brought up pro wrestling in an interview again, saying he wouldn’t mind defending his BMF belt in the WWE.
Well, anyone who knows Masvidal knows he’s not just a talker. He’s about that action. So all the alluding to pro wrestling has finally amounted to something — an appearance Sept. 22 at AEW’s ‘Rampage’ show in Queens, New York.
— Mark Buensuceso (@markbuen) September 23, 2021
AEW is arguably the hottest promotion in pro wrestling and it has executed a business model of recycling former WWE superstars to perfection. Other promotions have tried taking WWE’s “has-beens” in the past, but none of done it as successfully as AEW is currently doing it.
Former six-time WWF/WWE Champion Chris Jericho was one of the first big names to hop on board with AEW and he became the promotion’s inaugural World Champion in January 2019.
MMA fans are seeing AEW in headlines quite a bit these days. Former WWE superstar CM Punk, who tried his hand in the UFC for two fights before reverting back to pro wrestling, recently made his AEW debut.
Jericho and Punk are joined on the AEW roster by former WWF/WWE superstars such as Cody Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes (Goldust), PAC (formerly Neville), Jon Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose), Matt Hardy, Miro (formerly Rusev), Billy Gunn, Sting, The Big Show, Christian, Bryan Danielson (formerly Daniel Bryan), and many more.
Is AEW on a path to match or surpass the pro wrestling juggernaut Vince McMahon has turned the WWE into? Could Masvidal be coming along for the ride?
Masvidal is 50 fights into a long MMA career and has reached title contender status in the welterweight division. But while he is a fan favorite and certainly one of the best 170-pounders in the world, most MMA fans are not currently looking at him as a threat to take Usman’s belt. The 170-pound division is also one stacked with young, hungry talent.
So perhaps Masvidal is looking ahead in his career. Perhaps his recent AEW appearance is just the start. What say you? Do you think we’re going to see more of ‘Gamebred’ in pro wrestling? How do you think he would do? Could we see more of a crossover between MMA and pro wrestling fans if the trend of former fighters jumping to the sports entertainment world continues?
All seem like fair questions to ask right now. I do know something though: ‘Gamebred’ isn’t a bad pro wrestling name (already one of the best nicknames in the sport of MMA) and the flying knee is as good as any finishing move in the biz.
Pat Donohue has been covering sports for more than 10 years. He is a former Washington Redskins beat reporter and has been covering the University of Maryland football and basketball recruiting and daily beats for Rivals.com since 2013. Pat graduated from Maryland with his master’s degree in journalism and has received bylines in publications such as USA TODAY Sports, The Philadelphia Inquirer, SB Nation, and Yahoo! Sports. As a wrestler for 13 years in Pennsylvania, Pat has a deep appreciation for MMA and a keen understanding of the sport.