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Jorge Masvidal slept in his gym and was taught to backyard fight by Kimbo Slice before facing Kamaru Usman at UFC 251

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jorge masvidal slept in his gym and was taught to backyard fight by kimbo slice before facing kamaru usman at ufc 251 scaled

IT’s official. Jorge Masvidal will fight rival Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 on Fight Island on July 12.

‘Ponytail’ has stepped in just a week before Usman was due to square off against Gilbert Burns, who pulled out at the last minute after testing positive for the coronavirus.

A spectacular win would complete his incredible journey from sleeping on a gym floor to global superstar.

The fan-favourite was raised in poverty in Miami by his Peruvian mother he affectionately calls ‘Mama Dukes, while his Cuban dad spent two decades behind bars for manslaughter and drug trafficking.

 Jorge Masvidal will fight Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 on July 12

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Jorge Masvidal will fight Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 on July 12Credit: Getty Images

She supported the family by selling beads on the street to make ends meet, and refused to tell her son that his father was serving time between the ages of 4-13 – spinning him a yarn that he was in the army.

It caused Masvidal much confusion and pain growing up.

TROUBLED TEEN

“I got kicked out of school. … I caused a lot of turbulence throughout those years,” Masvidal told ESPN.

“All that was happening and my mom’s like, ‘You’re going to end up just like your dad.’ I go, ‘Pshh. He’s in the army.

“He’s like, some f****** general or some s***.’ And she goes, ‘He’s not in the army. He’s in [prison].'”

As soon as Masvidal learned the truth, he began visiting his dad in jail. The pair became close, and when Masvidal Sr was released in 2007 he became a mentor and someone who kept a teenage Jorge out of bother.

And it was his dad who pushed him to channel his aggression into fighting.

“I had a lot of plans, and when I told him, he was the only person who said, ‘Let’s do it,'” Masvidal revealed.

“He already knew who I was, better than anyone.”

 Masvidal grew up believing his dad was in the army when he was really in prison

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Masvidal grew up believing his dad was in the army when he was really in prisonCredit: Instagram @americantopteam
 Jorge Masvidal destroys Ben Askren within five seconds

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Jorge Masvidal destroys Ben Askren within five secondsCredit: USA TODAY Sports
 Masvidal Sr, left, spent time inside when his son was growing up

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Masvidal Sr, left, spent time inside when his son was growing upCredit: ESPN

A COACH’S PERSPECTIVE

The street-fighting legend was once so broke he slept under the ring in his gym before making his debut in 2003.

Dedicating his life to making it in the fight game meant the brawler had no time to get a job.

He instead spent his time in the gym and scrapping for the tiny purses on offer in backyard bouts and on the local Florida MMA circuit.

Masvidal’s coach at American Top Team Mike Brown told SunSport the 35-year-old has “fought his way to a better life”.

Brown explained: “He’s very authentic and real.

“It’s a guy who has literally fought for everything he’s got after coming from humble beginnings.

“He comes from a family who didn’t have a lot of money, and when you start out in the sport of MMA, there is no money, right?

“Especially at that time, there was a lot less than there is now and you kind of just do it for the love and if you want to be good you don’t have time to work 40 hours a week.

 Masvidal's coach Mike Brown, left, spoke to SunSport and revealed the fighter fought his way to the top

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Masvidal’s coach Mike Brown, left, spoke to SunSport and revealed the fighter fought his way to the topCredit: Getty
 Masvidal trains at American Top Team in Florida

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Masvidal trains at American Top Team in FloridaCredit: Primo/American Top Team
 The American made little money fighting in the local Florida MMA circuit at the start of his career

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The American made little money fighting in the local Florida MMA circuit at the start of his careerCredit: Primo/American Top Team

“So you’re not making money, you’re broke, he was spending all that time in the gym instead of working and really taking a gamble, a big risk.

“You’re really rolling the dice, but he did it, he made it. And not everyone does, it’s really very difficult.

“But he put himself all in, didn’t have a back-up plan but he hit the jackpot. He fought his way to a better life.”

HIS SAFE ZONE

Masvidal, who has two daughters and a son with his ex-girlfriend – told ESPN it did not matter where he slept, as long as he made it to his “safe zone” in the gym.

He said: “I slept in cars, in parking lots, in my gym under the ring.

“I didn’t let nothing stop me from a young age, I didn’t care if I had a house, or gear or not I just made it to the gym as it was my safe zone.

“It didn’t matter where I slept or what I was doing, as long as I could make it to the gym and space out for those three, four hours, I was like a kid all over again and I did that my whole life and it’s happened to pay off now.”

The hard work paid off when he finally made his UFC debut in 2013, beating Tim Means after a career fighting around the world with stints at rival promotions Strikeforce and Bellator.

But the American became a local star in Miami way before his mainstream MMA career for his street fights alongside the late Kimbo Slice, wagering AROUND £31 a fight.

 Masvidal made his name in Miami in backyard fighting alongside Kimbo Slice

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Masvidal made his name in Miami in backyard fighting alongside Kimbo Slice
 Masvidal, who went by the name 'Ponytail', recorded two wins against Slice’s right-hand man Ray

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Masvidal, who went by the name ‘Ponytail’, recorded two wins against Slice’s right-hand man Ray

BACKYARD BRAWLING

Masvidal recorded two wins against Slice’s right-hand man Ray in 2003, and Brown says the infamous YouTube brawls were Jorge at his purest.

He said: “Those fights were really interesting, and he gained a following in Miami from it, he was a big draw locally in Miami for 10-15 years. He’s been a big star locally forever.

“He’s this kid who’s literally been fighting for money on the streets of Miami since he was a teenager, this is a guy as game as they get.

“He’s willing to fight literally anytime, anywhere. This is his life.”

Amusingly, this was evidenced the first time he fought’s Slice’s protege.

“It was funny because when I fought Ray the first time, I was actually halfway through the McDonalds drive-thru when I got the call offering the scrap,” he said.

“I ate half my burger, then I was good to go. And I finished the other half of my burger following the fight.”

A CROWD FAVOURITE

Masvidal has a storied MMA record of 35–13, while also competing once in pro boxing and kickboxing. But it wasn’t until last year he became a favourite among the niche hardcore fans, after initally failing to break into the mainstream.

And just like Nate Diaz did with a win over Conor McGregor in 2016, Masvidal, who has been given the name ‘Street Jesus’ by fans, became an overnight sensation with a devastating knockout against Darren Till in 2019 at UFC London.

 Masvidal knocked out Darren Till in London to put his name on the map

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Masvidal knocked out Darren Till in London to put his name on the mapCredit: Getty Images

In the same night, “Gambred” got into a backstage altercation with another Brit welterweight Leon Edwards, claiming he gave the Birmingham ace “a three piece and a soda” – a now iconic line.

And after been part of Masvidal’s historic five-second knockout of Ben Askren in July – the quickest win in UFC history – Brown says he has never seen a rise in stardom in such limited time.

The trainer said: “It’s pretty incredible, and something that we knew could happen but for whatever reason hadn’t yet.

“He’s got a great combination of personality, skill and a style of fighting that people love.

“I’m so happy for him, and for all the guys it could have happened to I’m really glad it’s him. He’s put in the work and not taken any shortcuts, he’s earned it.

“The guy’s got 50 fights with world class opponents with multiple organisations all over the world, he’s the real deal.”

Masvidal left fans in disbelief at UFC 239 after his flying knee five seconds into his fight against Askren made history.

After the fight Brown shared footage of the pair practising the move in the gym days before the win – knowing this moment would set up Masvidal for a better future.

 As the bell went for the opening round former street fighter Masvidal flew across the cage connecting with a flying knee to Askren's skull

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As the bell went for the opening round former street fighter Masvidal flew across the cage connecting with a flying knee to Askren’s skull
 Askren was the unfortunate recipient of the fastest KO in UFC history at five seconds

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Askren was the unfortunate recipient of the fastest KO in UFC history at five secondsCredit: Getty Images

He said: “It shows just how controlled and accurate Jorge is. As he was doing it I filmed it for that reason, as I knew when he hits this the world’s going to go crazy.

“It played out just how we thought. It was beautiful. It really catapulted Jorge to another level of popularity and we were ecstatic – because it secured a better future for Jorge.

Masvidal had earned over £500,000 for his wins in the last year, before lockdown hit the sporting world.

The details of his purse for UFC 251 hasn’t been disclosed, but his manager Malki Kawa told Yahoo Sports that his fighter is “extremely happy” with the deal.

Should the No1 contender win the welterweight title next weekend, his star will know no bounds – with the sport crying out for a new favourite after McGregor’s retirement.

 Masvidal and his team, including ATT coach Mike Brown second on the left, celebrate beating Till

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Masvidal and his team, including ATT coach Mike Brown second on the left, celebrate beating Till
 Masvidal and Diaz clash at Madison Square Garden in the main event of UFC 244

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Masvidal and Diaz clash at Madison Square Garden in the main event of UFC 244Credit: Getty
Masvidal appears ready to step in and face Usman at UFC 251 after Burns pulls out due to positive coronavirus test

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UFC release Roman Bogatov after just ONE fight following disastrous showing and three point deduction on Fight Island

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ufc release roman bogatov after just one fight following disastrous showing and three point deduction on fight island scaled

THE UFC have released Roman Bogatov after just ONE fight following his disastrous Fight Island showing.

The Kazakhstani lightweight made his UFC debut on July 11 but a flurry of illegal shots mean it is likely to be his last bout.

The UFC have released Roman Bogatov after just ONE fight

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The UFC have released Roman Bogatov after just ONE fight

Big things were expected of the 29-year-old as he joined the franchise with an impressive 10-0 record.

But he came unstuck against wily veteran Leonardo Santos at UFC 251 after a strong early showing.

Bogatov ended up losing after judges unanimously scored the bout 29-26 in Santos’ favour.


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However, it was the nature of the defeat that has seen him booted out of the UFC.

Bogatov poked Santos’ eye in the first round.

And in the third, ref Marc Goddard stopped the bout after Bogatov hit Santos with two low blows and then proceeded to knee him in the head when Santos was kneeling against the cage.

Goddard was heard shouting: “Woah stop… what are you doing?”

Bogatov was hit with a two-point deduction as a result and he registered his first professional loss.

The scrapper then confirmed his ejection in a statement to a Russian news agency but said he was not given a reason.

He told TASS: “Yes, they told me today they had terminated the contract.”

Speculation has also emerged suggesting the cancellation may also relate to an alleged Nazi tattoo spotted on Bogatov’s corner man Aleksey Kiser.

Kiser defended the picture that appeared to show a ‘Sonnenrad’ or ‘Black Sun’ and claimed: “It has another meaning, for me as a Slavic person.”

Paige VanZant shows off bum again in tiny pink bikini as ex-UFC star launches herself into pool while on holiday

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Premier League DISQUALIFY Bulgarian winner of their Fantasy Football game over a mystery rule break

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premier league disqualify bulgarian winner of their fantasy football game over a mystery rule break

The Premier League have sensationally disqualified the original winner of their 2019-20 Fantasy game for a mystery breach of the rules. 

Bulgarian player Aleksandar Antonov, who has a YouTube channel on Fantasy football called TooGoodFPL, was announced as the winner following the final round of Premier League games on July 26, finishing 18 points clear of second-placed Joshua Bull. 

However, the Premier League confirmed on Tuesday morning that Antonov has ‘been removed from FPL due to a breach of our terms’, with the Bulgarian tweeting that he would let people know why he was removed in a video this evening on his YouTube channel. 

Aleksandar Antonov had originally been named as the winner following the final round of games last month

However, the original winner's team simply showed as deleted after the update to the standings

Aleksandar Antonov has been disqualified from Fantasy Premier League on Tuesday morning

It means cancer researcher Joshua Bull has won the popular game for the 2019-20 season

It means cancer researcher Joshua Bull has won the popular game for the 2019-20 season

FPL 1ST PLACE PRIZES 

  • 7-night break in the UK including VIP hospitality at two 2020/21 Premier League matches
  • A week’s worth of experiences at popular tourist attractions courtesy of Visit Britain
  • Includes travel and 7 nights’ accommodation
  • TAG Heuer connected watch
  • Copy of FIFA 20 and a games console
  • Nike manager jacket
  • FPL goody bag consisting of a rucksack, t-shirt, mug, water bottle, stress ball, pen, pad and key ring

NB: Prizes were announced before the coronavirus outbreak

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In response to query on social media as to whether he had multiple teams, Antonov said: ‘This is an easy one – no, I did not try to cheat in a game I play for fun. 

‘For more, tune in tonight, have a dayjob after all.

‘Joshua Bull, congrats (sic) on the win. Not the way you wanted to win it, not the way I wanted to lose it.’ 

Sportsmail contacted the Premier League for clarification on why the original winner was removed from the game, but did not elaborate on Tuesday morning’s statement

‘Following end-of-season checks, final standings have been updated within the game, leaving Southampton fan Joshua and his team ‘The Bulldozers’ top of the table,’ the statement read.

‘His score of 68 in Gameweek 38+, in which he played his Wildcard, was enough to hold off the challenge of Chris McGowan’s Aúpa Atleti and Will Turner’s Martial Mata’s LP.’

‘The team formerly occupying the No 1 position has been removed from FPL due to a breach of our terms.’

Bull, an Oxford University cancer researcher, could not hide his shock and excitement at being named as the official winner of Fantasy Premier League 2019-20, played by 7.6 million people.  

‘Wow, so it looks like the longest FPL season is getting even longer…’ he began on his Twitter page. 

New winner Joshua Bull reacted with shock after being announced as this season's champion

New winner Joshua Bull reacted with shock after being announced as this season’s champion

Antonov on the other hand insisted he did not cheat and would reveal all on Tuesday night

Antonov on the other hand insisted he did not cheat and would reveal all on Tuesday night

‘For everyone tweeting, I don’t know what’s going on either – I had an email from FPL this morning telling me that I’ve won(!), but I don’t know why.. 

‘And to address the obvious – clearly this isn’t how I would have wanted to win, and I don’t know any more than the rest of you about what’s happened!’

Rather comically, Bull has also updated his Twitter bio to include: ‘#FPL OR 1? 2? Your guess is as good as mine?’

The updated standings also means World chess champion Magnus Carlsen finishes in the top-10 worldwide, 42 points behind new winner Bull.  

The new standings means World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has finished in the top-10

The new standings means World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has finished in the top-10

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1pm Man Utd transfer news LIVE: Jadon Sancho chase still ON, Koulibaly cut price £63m deal, Coman loan wanted

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1pm man utd transfer news live jadon sancho chase still on koulibaly cut price 63m deal coman loan wanted
sancho coman koulibaly

MANCHESTER UNITED’s chase for Jadon Sancho is STILL on – but they have been left frustrated with the star’s wage demands.

And the Red Devils are reportedly preparing Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman as a backup option should Borussia Dortmund not budge on their £108m asking price.

Follow all the latest transfer updates and gossip from Old Trafford below…

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