It’s a new year, so Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of MMA in 2019. Throughout the the week, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
Some career comebacks involve a tidal shift from a significant losing streak to an amazing winning run. Others involve a return from inactivity. Sometimes the fighter was already competing at the highest level. Sometimes they had fallen off a cliff and had to climb back through the small regional promotions to reclaim their glory. Regardless of the circumstances, their career experienced a major turnaround.
Entering 2019, Jorge Masvidal had not fallen from the highest level, but he had spent some time out of action — zero fights in 2018 — and had to rebound from back-to-back losses in his most recent fights, 2017 encounters with Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson.
“Gamebred” entered the year on a downturn. This didn’t hold for long, though. In March, he returned at UFC on ESPN+ 5 and sent Darren Till packing for a new weight class when he finished off the British fighter with punches in the second round of their bout. In July, Masvidal made an even bigger splash. At UFC 239, he greeted former Bellator MMA and ONE Championship titleholder Ben Askren with a flying knee just five seconds into the contest.
The biggest moment of the year, though, came when the 35-year-old veteran was paired with Nate Diaz to determine the BMF — “Baddest Motherfucker” — of the UFC. In essence, his 2019 run and rivalry with Diaz led the UFC to create a brand-new title belt. Not many fighters can boast such an achievement. Masvidal, however, did one better: he pushed the self-declared defending BMF champion for three rounds and opened up a cut that led to a doctor’s stoppage. Masvidal was the new BMF.
After a disappointing stretch to end 2017 and a quiet 2018, Masvidal’s rise to become one of the headlining stars of the UFC was quite the comeback. His journey makes him our 2019 pick for “Comeback Fighter of the Year.”
Other finalists: “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2019 MMA Award winners.