(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
The Prelim Breakout Star is a once per event article that helps fans get to know those who will be entertaining them from the undercard. The intention of the article is not to bring attention to the most talented guy on the preliminary card, but rather one that the common fan may have overlooked or underestimated.
With the Strikeforce integration complete, the fighters have made their claims to their place in their divisions. Perhaps no division has been shook up more than the lightweight class. Fighters like Pay Healy and Josh Thomson have already earned consideration for title shots, while Gilbert Melendez forced fans to question whether or not he had done enough to win said title. To continue with the trend, a former title challenger in the Strikeforce lightweight division is this week’s Prelim Breakout Star.
Affiliation – American Top Team
Nickname – Gamebred
From – Miami, Florida
Height – 5’10”
Weight – 155 lbs (Lightweight)
Record – 24-7 (1-0 UFC)
What makes him impressive
In a sense, like most fighters who’ve neared the top of any of MMA’s major promotions, it’s Masvidal’s dual threat that makes him hard to beat. Firstly, as showcased in his win over rangey Tim Means, he has a great sense of range. His footwork keeps him out of the power range of opponents and keeps him on the right ends of decisions (which he’s taken his last five victories via). While that shows his power hasn’t been all that devastating recently, it should be noted that he has ten career knockouts.
Secondly, while he doesn’t have an impressive submission game, his training at American Top Team keeps him out of trouble. His takedown defense keeps him in his own realm and sets up other strikes. In addition, he has been known to impose his will and get the takedown himself when his striking isn’t working out. His victory over KJ Noons is a great example of how well he executes that strategy.
Why he’s been overlooked
As mention above, Masvidal has been in a lot of decisions as of late. He hasn’t been on either side of a finish in nearly four years. In general, his style is not too flashy, although it is very effective. For these reasons, his name generally gets overlooked.
What makes this a good matchup
Michael Chiesa is a very long opponent, but he uses his length mostly in search of submissions. His last six fights have ended via submission and it seems that he’s constantly trying to set them up. With Masvidal being such a tough person to finish, Chiesa is going to have to do what he hasn’t done in a great deal of time – go the distance. Whether he’ll be able to keep Masvidal’s pace and not tire for three rounds will be a heavy determinant in how this fight ends.
Daniel Vreeland is a writer (PrelimPicker) and teacher with an avid love for martial arts. He has practiced jiu jitsu and submission grappling under and next to many top names including Royce Gracie, Rousimar Palhares, Murilo Bustamante and Marco Alvan. He has placed in multiple NAGA grappling tournaments and currently trains under black belt Dave Roy in Amherst, MA.