The Floridian lightweight used his jab to establish range against K.J. Noons Saturday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, gauging his distance before inflicting serious damage to Noons’ face in a unanimous decision victory.
“[The jab] is what set everything up,” said Masvidal (Pictured; file photo) in a post-fight interview with Showtime Sports. “To all you young fighters out there, learn how to jab. It’ll take you places.”
Using his trademark upright stance, the American Top Team fighter kept Noons on the outside of his range in the first frame of their 155-pound contest before dropping his foe with a perfectly timed round kick to the face. Though the strike was clearly the most damaging blow of the fight, it was Masvidal’s constant counterpunching which stopped Noons in his tracks again and again.
“I’m a good counter-fighter. If you’re coming forward, I’m going to catch you. If you’re just staying back, [it makes landing punches tougher],” said Masvidal. “That’s always been a criticism from my coaches and a lot of my fans, is that I don’t attack much.”
Though “Gamebred” used effective counterstrikes to stifle and bloody Noons, he also opened up considerably more than fans saw in his March performance against Billy Evangelista. In control of both bouts from start to finish, Masvidal asserted that his increased work rate against Noons was simply a product of the Hawaiian’s fighting style.
“No change in style,” said Masvidal. “Billy just posed different threats. He has decent takedowns. He wrestled for a while, and he wasn’t as aggressive [as Noons]... If you’re aggressive like K.J., I’m going to put you on your butt.”
Though the 26-year-old father of two does not know what the future holds, he hopes that Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker may present him with a gift for Father’s Day: a shot at Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
“I don’t know if Melendez is next for me, but I’m ready for the shot. It’s up to Mr. Coker, but hopefully he can give me a good Father’s Day gift and let me fight for the title.”