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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Lightweight Jorge Masvidal stunned most earlier this month when he took out K.J. Noons in a dominant performance at Strikeforce "Overeem vs. Werdum." The three round beating saw Masvidal cut Noons open with a vicious knee, nearly finish him in the first round and cause a massive hematoma by fight's end. The win was his second straight in Strikeforce, and now has him a likely challenger for Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez. Masvidal took some time out of his schedule to speak with MMATorch this week, where he commented on Noons, Melendez, Paul Daley and much more.
JAMIE PENICK: First of all, congratulations on the victory over K.J. Noons. What did you think was your biggest advantage coming into that fight?
JORGE MASVIDAL: Thanks so much. I think the fact that everyone expected so much from him and I was flying under the radar a little. Honestly, my training at this point is more focused and better than it has ever been. I'm at my peak right now endurance wise - so it is going to be hard for anyone to come up against me. I'm focused.
PENICK: You out-struck Noons and utilized an excellent game plan with your reach and speed. Do you feel he didn't respect your striking game?
MASVIDAL: No one did until this fight. All the press was about what a great striker he was - he was the golden child. I think I out classed him big time and hope I gained the respect of those who haven't given me my due in the past.
PENICK: Noons freely admitted prior to the fight that he was looking past you and towards a title shot against Gilbert Melendez. How much did statements like that from him fuel your preparation and performance?
MASVIDAL: Not at all. I go in there to win. I don't listen to what other people say and I don't read the MMA media stuff. I was focused on Gilbert and I was going to plow through anyone in my way of that.
PENICK: You've now put on two very impressive performances in the Strikeforce cage and are in line to meet Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez. What do you feel you bring to that fight as a challenger that Melendez hasn't had to deal with from his recent opponents?
MASVIDAL: I don't think he has ever fought someone of my striking caliber before. Period.
PENICK: What weaknesses do you see in Melendez's game that you feel you can exploit or take advantage of in that potential matchup?
MASVIDAL: His only weakness will be that he has never faced me.
PENICK: You took Paul Daley to the judges' scorecards in a welterweight bout last September in a decision that arguably could have been yours. What did that fight do to your confidence level, seeing as you were at a weight class higher against a fighter that had just competed in a number one contender's fight in the UFC in his last bout prior to that?
MASVIDAL: I was really upset that I lost that fight. I don't know what the judges were thinking. I know I proved I can [go] toe-to-toe with the best, at a higher weight class, and still hold my own. I left that fight without even a scratch.
PENICK: What did you learn the most from that fight that you've been able to translate into your Strikeforce performances?
MASVIDAL: That if I can [I need to] leave the decision on the outcome of a fight in my hands.
PENICK: Where do you feel you stack up in the lightweight division?
MASVIDAL: There are some great fighters out there but I feel I'm the best. I've fought some of the top fighters in the world and proved myself over and over again. I don't want to call anyone out but I would put myself up against anyone.
PENICK: Outside of the fight with Gilbert Melendez, who in the lightweight division would you most like to face and why?
MASVIDAL: Gilbert is the only thing in my sight right now.
PENICK: Are you still haunted by the inverted triangle against Toby Imada? Are your recent performances and success on a bigger stage helping to erase the memory of that loss?
MASVIDAL: Nothing erases a memory of a loss. I watch those tapes over and over again to remind myself of what it feels like.
PENICK: Do you feel you're coming into your prime as a fighter at 26, or is this still just the beginning of what we've seen from Jorge Masvidal?
MASVIDAL: Just wait. There is a lot to see of me yet.
PENICK: Finally, what do you feel has been your biggest improvement in the cage over the last year?
MASVIDAL: Definitely my ground game. I've been working hard at it.
PENICK: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, if you have any sponsors or trainers you'd like to be recognized, please let me know.
MASVIDAL: Thank you for supporting me and thanks to all my fans! Please hit me up on Facebook @Jorge Masvidal and on Twitter @Gamebredfighter. A big thanks to my clothing sponsor Xtreme Couture for gearing me up for my fights in some kick ass clothes, to Training Mask for helping me prepare for my fights, Feltus, my management Team at ML Management, Tina, ATT, SMSP, and all my coaches and trainers.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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