Loud, rowdy, chaotic. All three words to describe the atmosphere of mixed martial arts in Australia. It’s a niche market in Australia and when there’s an event on, it usually brings out the wildest of people from all walks of life. With one common interest, fighting.
That was no different over the weekend as over 100 people attended “An afternoon with Jorge Masvidal” at the Newmarket Hotel in Sydney’s south-east.
It was a very different feel to how UFC fighters who have meet and greats/Q&As are handled in other countries like the USA and Brazil. This was held in a local pub with a boisterous environment fuelled by booze and the summer humidity.
After being told he was running “a little late” (was this a tactic, I wondered, to get punters spending more?), the crowd decided to drink copious amounts of alcohol to deal with the sun of the outdoor setting. This added to the chaotic feel of the event as there was now a large number of drunk people sitting in the heat, with one English man, even handing out sunscreen in the crowd.
Everyone waited, getting more and more annoyed, for the arrival of Jorge Masvidal.
Miami-born Masvidal is on a hot streak in the UFC at the moment, racking up three big wins, including the fastest ever knockout of the unfortunate Ben Askren and a win over Nate Diaz.
An hour-and-a-half later and he was there, holding an open forum for the fans in attendance. Many were by this time beyond drunk, with one man insisting Masvidal choke him out (Masvidal actually wanted to do it until his manager stepped in, citing legal reasons for not).
“I don’t know if you heard but I have a way of dealing with these crotch sniffers, it’s called a knee to the face, ask Ben Askren,” Masvidal told those assembled.
This was the 35-year-old’s take on how he would deal with the wrestling ability of welterweight champion Kamaru Usman ahead of there rumoured upcoming fight.
Masvidal is no stranger to outrageous comments or actions. It’s one of the reasons over the past year he’s gone from a 16-month lay off after two consecutive losses, to one of UFC’s most recognisable names and having his own title created.
Lots of speculation has been had over the past month about his next fight. Masvidal was asked when he thinks that will be.
“We’re looking at Usman during international fight week in July, I’m hoping we can get that done. I’m going baptise that man”.
One member of the audience asked if Masvidal would ever fight in Australia to which he eagerly replied: “I’d love to, Australia always comes out when the UFC comes to town, crazy atmosphere”.
He then posed a question to the audience “who you guys got with your boy Izzy? Speaking of the upcoming fight between New Zealand’s own middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and his training partner Yoel Romero.
The majority of the crowd had Israel. Masividal chuckled.
“Don’t let him hear you doubt him, Yoel by stoppage, that’s my boy-man,” he shot back.
The appearance ended with a photo op for everyone in attendance, but the atmosphere hadn’t calmed down.