Masvidal, Edwards come to blows backstage (0:52)

The punches were thrown when Masvidal confronted Leon. (0:52)

Apr 23, 2021

Masvidal will face Colby at UFC 272 on March 5. The story was published in April, 2021.

The O2 Arena in London was packed for a UFC Fight Night. In the main event, a popular local fighter was facing a well-known opponent. Ben Askren, who was in attendance, was expected to beat Masvidal and then face Till for the title.

Plans and Masvidal's career took a turn that night. It was a turn that eventually led Masvidal to the main event of UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida, where he took a second shot at Kamaru Usman.

There was nothing to suggest that Masvidal was destined to be a star. After Masvidal kicked Till in the groin in the opening seconds, the bout was stopped almost immediately. The powerful Till floored Masvidal with a straight left hand.

Due to Holly Holm being injured, Aspen Ladd has to step up to 145 pounds to take on Norma Dumont in the main event.

The Oct. 2 bantamweight bout against Macy Chiasson was canceled after Ladd was shaky at the weigh-in. She is looking for her third win.

The UFC Fight Night features a match between two men.

Saturday, Oct. 16, UFC Apex, Las Vegas

Main card: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+

Prelims: 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+

UFC events, weigh-ins and more can be found on ESPN+, as well as Dana White's Contender Series.

The fight was expected to unfold this way. After his only professional loss, Till was ranked No. 3 by the UFC. Masvidal had lost two in a row and was 4-5 in his previous nine. He participated in a reality TV show in which he reexamined his career after 16 months of not fighting. Masvidal was seen as a stepping stone for Till to get a title shot.

By the time Masvidal left the arena, his losing streak would be over. He would take the first steps towards becoming one of the UFC's biggest draws and one of its most recognizable personalities. He knocked Till out in the second round.

People who were there tell the story of a fighter who displayed a lot of resilience inside the cage and on the street, but then he got into a fight with another person. It was a night that produced a new star, a video that is the fourth-most watched in the history of the MMA channel and a phrase that has taken root in MMA pop culture.

The following quotes were gathered from interviews conducted recently and some dating back to the event. The quotes were edited for clarity and brevity.

Darren Till dropped Jorge Masvidal 10 seconds into their bout, but he was unable to finish him, and he later paid the price. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Masvidal was able to scramble to his feet after Till knocked him down, and he was able to land some solid shots later in the round.

The referee said thatDarren came out quickly. I think it was a straight left from the beginning. He put him down early. What is the first thing thatJorge does? Put his tongue out. Thanks for that, you reminded me that I was in a fight.

Masvidal was not hurt at all. He turned the lights back on after turning them off. It was a flash knockdown and it woke you up. I got up to my feet and felt good. I was able to get right after it because I was not wobbly.

The fight was going back and forth. The arena was tense. It was an environment that made you want to fall down.

Forty seconds into the second round, Till poked Masvidal in the left eye. The fight was paused once more and the doctor came in to examine the eye, but Masvidal did not complain about not being able to see. With two minutes left in the round, Masvidal switched to southpaw, threw a right jab and then came over the top with a huge left hand that hit Till in the jaw. As Masvidal landed a couple more shots during a chaotic rush, Till might have lost consciousness and began to fall backwards. Masvidal walked around the cage looking at the stunned crowd while Till lay unconscious on the mat.

I already knew that he was gone. You can see it by his arm. He is still standing and going stiff as a board.

I already knew so I am closing the difference very quickly. If I can, I will try to catch him. I could tell by the way he was falling that he was not bouncing back. I am glad I did, because he was on top of me. He is doing his job, right? The referee has a job to do to separate them in the heat of the moment.

There was a family over my shoulder. The arena fell silent at the knockout. When Masvidal's punch landed, he walked toward the commentary booth and pointed at Paul and I and said, "You knew I could do it."

Four of his previous five losses were by split decision, so Masvidal wanted to avoid leaving things in the hands of the judges in London. James Chance/Getty Images

Masvidal had a television interview after the fight. Fighters usually walk to a desk to talk with analysts. Two years before UFC 217, Michael Bisping had a verbal confrontation with Masvidal in the fighters hotel.

Laura Sanko, UFC reporter: At the time, there was a little bit of concern that might not be the best dynamic to have there. I was kind of secretly excited, because in those specific situations, I don't usually get the main.

As Masvidal was doing his interview, his eyes locked on the person behind the camera.

Sanko: Normally, the interview area is out of the main flow of traffic. Between where I stand and where people would be walking in a hallway is usually about 30 to 40 feet. For whatever reason, the O2 Arena was set up in such a way that I had the most shallow set in my life. I was on top of the backdrop and the camera was on top of me. Normally that person would be far away, but Leon was right up on us. I think 8 feet to 10 feet is the maximum.

For sure,Jorge heard him. I thought this might be interesting. They might chirp a bit. I could see thatJorge's eyes were moving away from me.


At UFC Fight Night in London, there was a backstage fight between himself and LeonEdwards.

I never heard what Leon said. At first, he didn't say anything crazy. Leon called him after he asked, "How about us next?" and "How about us in July?" Leon kept walking.

You can see what happened. I immediately knew they were going to yell at each other. I sawJorge walking with his hands behind his back, so it is not going to be what it was. That was a less threatening posture to me. It is kind of not in retrospect.

Masvidal: I was doing my interview, and this hooligan came by and said "July, get your ass kicked, July." I will fight you because you are a scrub. Just say it to my face, like a man. You are saying it is walking away.

As I walk to him, I have my hands behind my back to signal that I am not coming here for problems. He walks towards me with his hands up. You are going to punch me in the face if you do that. That is not going to happen.

Both of us were doing media. I was walking by. He was looking at me. I asked if we were fighting in July, and he walked out of the interview. I walked towards him as well.

I was on the phone with Jon Jones, and I am watching it all unfold. They were going to start yapping at each other if Leon was coming my way. When Leon started yapping, I was like, "Here we go."

Leon was supposed to go through the double doors when he was walking. He turned to go towards the other person. Leon could have walked through the double doors if he wasn't trying to start anything.

You cannot do that if you knowJorge. Nothing happens if he keeps walking. I knew at that moment that they were going to face to face.

The cameraperson who was filming Sanko stayed on Masvidal as he and Edwards met. When they got close, Masvidal threw a quick combination and the two were separated. He had a cut under his left eye. He disagreed with Masvidal's version of how he approached the encounter.

Why would I walk towards him with my hands up? He wouldn't be able to land on me if I did that. The security grabbed us back after he threw a few shots. The whole situation was that. He got away this time, but will never do it again.

Sanko: It all happened very quickly. Leon's hands were not behind his back as he took a step toward him. It was obvious thatJorge swung first.

It was a cheap shot and they were separated by security. On the night of or any time since, there has been no chance for him to redeem that. Leon was robbed of the chance to retaliate after anyone could land a few shots on someone.

"So I give him the three-piece with a soda, and then just glide out of there." Jorge Masvidal

Leon is with his friends and family. There are a lot of people. It could have turned ugly. It could have gotten ugly. Fortunately, it did not.

Dana White blamed his staff. Guys walking up to each other backstage is not a scenario that you would allow. We have enough people that should not be in that situation. I am very disappointed in my entire crew for that one.

These guys are fighters, they are in the heat of the moment, he just won, he has the adrenaline pumping, and Masvidal is that guy.

10 people from the UFC should have jumped in when he walked up the stage with his hands behind his back. That stuff should not happen.

There was a thought of legal trouble for Masvidal, but he didn't face repercussions from law enforcement or the UFC.

To Dave, it was a case of assault. Leon would have been charged if we had reported it as an assault, because he had a nasty cut under his eye.

He got away with it. We are not dwelling on it. His time will come. It happens if that fight happens. Leon wins the title and Masvidal is still on the scene, but I think he is at the end of his career.

Hunter Campbell, the UFC's executive VP, I called immediately. Hunter told me that he saw the video and that he could call his security. You aren't seeing that the doors where Leon was supposed to go through, he didn't go through, because what you're seeing on camera is Jorge approaching him.

The initial thing was thatJorge did it, and then once security and everyone said exactly what happened, the parts the camera didn't catch, everything was fine.

Masvidal said it was stupid. It is just something that happened. I wish I could control myself, but at the same time, I can not if someone disrespects me on the constant. This guy has been attacking me on social media. It gets more attention than I like to do, which is to fight.

Nothing really bad came out of it. I am not happy that it went down that way. It is not professional. People have to defend themselves. He will defend himself if he feels threatened. I would encourage everyone to do that.

Masvidal: It is on video, I am defending myself. My life was threatened by this hooligan. I was scared, maybe I didn't look like it, but I was scared out of my mind.

The video has over 6 million views. Sanko was told by Masvidal's team that they owe him one for not finishing the interview.

He did not want to do any media at that time. I told him that it was better if we said our side of the story. That is not what happened. If we don't tell our side, they have the right to go with their narrative they see fit, and I don't want that to be the case. I wanted to make sure to put our version there as well.

Masvidal just started a fight backstage with Leon Edwards so he doesn't have to fight me next 😂

— Funky (@Benaskren) March 16, 2019

After the fight, I was in the back of the arena, and UFC PR told me thatJorge wasn't going to talk to any more reporters because of what happened. I told the UFC PR that they were very helpful at and between fights. In London, he upset Darren Till. I think the initial thought of those on the ground was to let the dust settle, but I wanted to talk to him.

I asked Abe if he would talk to me, and he said he was chilling. He is in a good mood. UFC PR still wasn't keen on the idea, so I contacted UFC president Dana White, who was in the U.S. The man who won the main event by knockout needs to be talked to. White and Kawa were the ones who helped get me in front of him.

We went back to his locker room and he came out and sat down in a folding chair, wearing a white tracksuit, and did an interview.

Masvidal came up with a phrase that is still popular two years later.

Masvidal: I give him a three-piece with a soda and he'll just glide out of there.

When we got to the hallway, I turned to the cameraman who had filmed it and asked if he heard when he said, "Three-piece and a soda and glide on outta there."

TheGlide on outta there part was the best part of the line to me. It was a visual. I knew the interview was going to do well, a lot of people would see it, and I knew that line would get attention, but I didn't realize it would become such a staple of MMA.

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T-shirts with the slogan were made after the video of the interview had over a million views. Masvidal lamented the idea that more people remember the altercation than the win over Till, but it is unlikely that his star would have ascended as quickly. Masvidal knocked out Askren in a UFC-record five seconds on July 6, 2019. The mythical BMF title was won by Masvidal. On six days notice, he lost a unanimous decision in his first attempt at the belt. One of the reasons he called out Masvidal for a second fight was because of his popularity, which resulted in bigger purses and more pay-per-view buys. On May 15, he fights Diaz. He wants to get a title shot. It is possible that Masvidal and Edwards will fight at some point.

The whole night was fantastic, as you can see by the picture. I wouldn't say it wasn't good.

It definitely started in London. It started before the fight. He carried himself in a way that looked like he had decided he was a superstar before he was. It was like someone had shown him the future and he was just there to enjoy it.

Sanko thinks that what made him a star was more about how authentic he was and how much he meant to the community, rather than the fact that he was throwing punches. He isn't coming up with these jokes before. This is how he talks. I don't mean to say what you expect, but it's his response. People are drawn to that.

You get the sense that he is breathing. This is a guy who likes to fight, not a guy who likes to compete. There is something dangerous and cool about a real-life mobster.

The report was contributed to by reporters from ESPN.