UFC president Dana White told the press recently that he is about to make an offer to the in-form 170lb contender Jorge Masvidal after his five-second KO of Ben Askren at UFC 239.
The question now, is who exactly Dana is about to offer.
Speaking to the media after this week’s edition of Dana White’s Contender Series, he explained how Masvidal would likely have at least some issue with the name being put forth.
“You can’t make ultimatums.
“Listen, we’re going to offer him a fight, and if he accepts the fight, he does and if he doesn’t, he doesn’t.” (via MMAFighting)
I think it’s fair to take this statement as confirmation that Masvidal won’t be fighting Conor McGregor right away.
At present, the welterweight division is surprisingly full of fighters who are completely unattached to scheduled bouts moving into the year’s final third.
Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington are likely locked into a clash for the divisional belt as things stand. And while Gamebred’s recent explosion in popularity was pointed to by some as a potential foil for Colby’s hopes of getting a title-shot, if you ask me, Covington’s decision to fight Robbie Lawler last weekend was one that solidified his spot in Dana’s eyes.
While we’re at it, ruling out Robbie Lawler is pretty obvious. His muted display against Chaos was one that truly signalled the end of his days as an elite 170lber and there absolutely is no way that Jorge would take a fight against a guy ranked outside of the top-10.
Relatively recent clashes with Stephen Thompson, Darren Till, and, of course, Ben Askren make the notion of seeing a second helping against Masvidal extremely unlikely also.
Within the divisional top-10, that leaves us with four potential fighters whose names could be featured alongside Jorge’s before long.
Santiago Ponzinibbio, who is ranked ninth, holds a 27-3 pro-record and in many ways, would be a very compelling and tricky matchup for Gamebred. In recent times, though, he has been suffering from a bacterial infection and after stints in hospital, is now said to be on the recovery path.
If he’s fit, then he could theoretically be the next in line but I think his low ranking and inactivity this year may keep him at least one win away from getting a crack at one of the guys residing in the upper-echelons of the division.
Next, we have Rafael dos Anjos.
As we know, the UFC often avoid matching up fighters who are coming off of a loss with one coming off of a win and in this case, the words ‘Masvidal vs. dos Anjos’ would do very little in building on the immense buzz generated by Jorge post-UFC 239.
That leaves the two probable picks.
Tyron Woodley has not been seen in action since his meek effort at stopping Kamaru Usman from taking his welterweight title at UFC 235 but as we all know, he is one the most intelligent fighters in the game and his exceptional athleticism would be a major danger for anyone in the division.
In all honesty, I love the idea of pairing him up with Masvidal and if things go south with my other suggestion, I do believe that the UFC will make this fight.
But as we all know, if the promotion are looking to capitalise on the current status of the ‘Jorge Masvidal brand’ then booking him to take on Leon Edwards is an absolute no-brainer.
Both guys are ranked in the top-5 and there is some genuine beef between them after Jorge’s attack on Leon in the wake of their appearance on UFC London in March.
If Edwards can’t sign, I would imagine that Woodley would be fine, but in a time where highlight reels of bus-attacks are acceptable, expect to see Jorge’s ‘three-piece-and-a-soda’ on repeat if all parties can reach an agreement.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena