A few years ago, Jorge Masvidal was still a relatively unknown fighter. The Miami native was known as a journeyman. A backyard brawler steeped in the ways of the streets, privy to its esoteric rules and, as such, in possession of certain talents frowned upon by polite society.
“I am really known, like in my area of Westchester, Miami, Florida, I am known—I have one of the best sucker punches in the business, you know?” Masvidal told The MMA Hour in 2017.
“Sucker punches? That’s not a good thing to be known for,” host Ariel Helwani countered.
“Hell yeah it is, in the street it is,” insisted Masvidal. “If you’re a real street dude, you know that you don’t tell somebody, ‘Hey, you and me outside,’ you might get shot, you might get killed. You learn to have a really good sucker punch and a really good 50-yard dash.”
The exchange is telling given the events that transpired last week. Masvidal is now facing up to 15 years’ jail time after sucker-punching Colby Covington at a Miami restaurant—an assault that some have celebrated as street justice rightly served. Covington, after all, had crossed that inviolable trash talk line by, amongst other questionable antics, speaking ill of Masvidal’s ex-wife and children.
But is what Masvidal did last week—sneaking up on a man and committing grievous bodily harm—far worse than anything Colby has ever said or done?
Colby Covington: When Trash Talk Goes Too Far
Colby Covington, as everyone knows, is no saint. In recent years, the 34-year-old has insulted the entire nation of Brazil, declaring it “a dump” and its inhabitants “filthy animals.” He’s made what some considered “flat-out racist” remarks about Karamu Usman’s native Africa, in between shamelessly calling his father, who spent time in prison, a “jailbird.”
Even those whom even the Mafia won’t touch—wives and children—Colby goes after with glee, calling Dustin Poirier’s wife a “Jezebel” and his daughter a “prop.” And the women in Colby’s life haven’t been spared either, having implied his former American Top Team peer Joanna Jędrzejczyk was Masvidal’s “little sidepiece.”
These are just a few of the long list of vile insults that routinely spew forth from Covington’s mouth, and which Masvidal has rightly taken particular exception to in the past. Following Covington’s insults aimed at ATT peers Jędrzejczyk and Amanda Nunes, Masvidal declared that his trash-talking antics, from which no one seems off-limits, are giving MMA a bad name.
“People are going to be like, he’s talking smack about chicks, I’m going to go buy the pay-per-view?” Masvidal told ESPN in 2020. “It just sets a bad example for our team and our sport.”
Masvidal May Have Inflicted Street Justice, But At What Price?
Masvidal has always worn his street-fighting origins as a badge of honor. And legions of supporters have defended the manner in which he inflicted street justice on his long-time enemy. But as someone who has previously taken the moral high ground, asserting that Covington’s trash talk sets a bad example for MMA, many have rightly called out Masvidal for hypocrisy by bringing the sport into disrepute.
Sure, Covington’s remarks about Masvidal’s family well and truly crossed the line, as did those he made about Poirier’s and Usman’s. But by upholding that sacred credo of the street—that demands one must defend his honor above all else—Masvidal has ironically dishonored his name and integrity.
And perhaps worse, he’s managed to achieve the seemingly impossible: make scores of fans sympathize with he who (as MMA’s most shamelessly offensive trash-talker) deserves no sympathy at all, Colby Covington.