Jorge Masvidal was a cautionary tale that Dan Lambert used before the stardom of fighter Dan Lambert


Jorge Masvidal was not always the model of success at the American Top Team gym.

During an appearance on The MMA Hour, ATT owner Dan Lambert remembered how he used to point to Masvidal’s career as a cautionary tale. Today, Masvidal is one of the biggest stars in all of MMA. The welterweight contender is set to meet Colby Covington in a main event grudge match this Saturday at UFC 272 in Las Vegas.

Lambert was questioned if he was shocked at Masvidal’s rise to stardom. He said that it was surprising considering how Masvidal was once viewed at the ATT gym.

” “Absolutely stunned,” Lambert stated. “Flabbergasted. I grabbed him one time at the gym when he was just doing things the wrong way and I grabbed a couple of the young guys, I said, ‘If you want to screw up your career, do what Jorge does. If you want to waste all the talent in the world like this guy has, do what Jorge does.’ I guess I was wrong.

“He relates the story of his trip to South America. He spent time thinking about the show, reinventing himself, and trying to figure out the codes. I thought that was a great tale. ***. And man, he was right. Something clicked in him. He was transformed. He always had the talent, always had the ability. He is a skilled fighter. You don’t realize how athletic Jorge is unless you sit there and watch him do strength and conditioning next to other guys who have the more traditional studly, athletic body. Jorge blows guys away. He’s got the whole package. It was just that he had never assembled it before and you can’t imagine a man ever going to put it back together. So yeah, when he did it, I was pretty surprised.”

Lambert didn’t provide a time frame for when this humbling incident supposedly happened, but it was presumably during Masvidal’s UFC run from 2013 to 2017 where he established himself as a respected fighter that wasn’t considered much of a threat to contend for a title or headline pay-per-views. According to Lambert, Masvidal didn’t appear to take the criticism seriously at the time.

In his first 15 UFC fights, Masvidal went to a decision 11 times and he lost six of those encounters. Lambert speculates that Masvidal had a habit of not fighting up to his potential.

” It seemed that every fight he had, he lost more than he won,” Lambert stated. It was always a split decision. Jorge was rarely outclassed during a fight.

Whether you are trying to beat the competition, or just do enough to win, or whether you just want to make him look good, I have no idea how to explain it. Because his talent was elite .”

, he just wasn’t living up to it.

After a decision loss to Stephen Thompson in November 2017, Masvidal returned to the octagon 16 months later and scored a highlight-reel knockout of Darren Till, who was fresh off of a UFC title fight. After a five second flying knee knockout by Ben Askren, Masvidal won the title of “BMF”, defeating Nate Diaz at UFC . His two attempts to wrest the UFC welterweight title from Kamaru Usman ended in losses, but Masvidal remains a legitimate box office draw.

This Saturday, he meets Covington in a rare PPV non-title main event, a bout that has been years in the making given the ongoing feud that stems from a former friendship turned sour. Lambert thinks the emotion surrounding the fight will actually be good for Masvidal’s performance.

” I think it plays to Jorge’s advantage,” Lambert stated. “I think if you look over Jorge’s career, the times where he’s put on uninspiring performances are just kind of when he gets bored out there or just wants to see how good his defense is. Sometimes I’ve kind of referred to it as a boxing mentality where Floyd [Mayweather] can go out there and make the guy miss 99. 9 percent of the shots and people are like, ‘He’s a master, he’s a maestro. Wow! How amazing was his defense?’ But you go out there and apply that to a three- or five-round MMA fight and people are like, that’s f******* boring and the guy who threw 10 times more punches even though he landed less still gets the nod.

“And I think that Jorge being so emotionally involved in this fight, I think it plays into him. He’s going out to fight harder and it will be a good thing .”

If Masvidal does vanquish his hated rival, it’s unclear what would be next for him. It’s doubtful he will get another shot at Usman anytime soon and his popularity has reached the point where he may consider opportunities outside of competing in MMA. Masvidal has already appeared alongside Lambert for the professional wrestling promotion All Elite Wrestling and he recently launched two fight promotions, Gamebred Fighting Championship (a bare-knuckle organization) and iKON Fighting Championship.

Win or lose, Lambert expects Masvidal to continue to make big moves.

“I think Masvidal can do anything Masvidal wants,” Lambert said. “He’s unique. His charisma is infectious. He’s always doing something crazy and wonderful every time I speak to him. I called him not that long ago and it was a funny ring and he answered, I’m like, ‘Were you out of the country somewhere?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m in Egypt.’ I’m like, ‘What the hell are you doing in Egypt?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I think we’re gonna do some fights right by the pyramids or something.’

“The guy’s just got that it factor. He was able to bring a lot of energy into his career. I would not be surprised for him to do pro wrestling. I’d be very surprised if he won the welterweight title. I’m also not surprised that he ended up becoming a politician. That guy can do a lot of things.”