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CBS4's Jessica Vallejo went one-on-one with the UFC's BMF champion and welterweight title contender. Read more: https://cbsloc.al/3mQsZXg
JIM BERRY: All new at 11:00, we're meeting the fighter who goes by the nickname "Gamebred," meaning someone who can fight through pain and fatigue. Now, Jorge Masvidal is gearing up for one of his biggest fights ever. Millions of mixed martial arts fans already know him and that nickname.
LAUREN PASTRANA: What they may not know is that Jorge Masvidal learned to conquer all of life's challenges right here in South Florida. CBS 4's Jessica Vallejo has his inspirational story.
JESSICA VALLEJO: The time is ticking. And he's not stopping.
JORGE MASVIDAL: The tiger's ready to eat, and let's go.
JESSICA VALLEJO: On April 24, this UFC fighter will face off against Kamaru Usman in hopes of becoming the new welterweight champion of the world.
JORGE MASVIDAL: I can't wait to get in there and show the world what I've been working on, the fruits of my labor, since a child to right now.
JESSICA VALLEJO: But what some of you may not know is that his journey began right here on the streets of Miami. His constant inspiration, his mother and father.
JORGE MASVIDAL: He went through some hard times that helped me get here in a way. So I thank him for his sacrifice for me.
JESSICA VALLEJO: When Masvidal was just four years old, his father was sent to prison.
JORGE MASVIDAL: My dad got sent away at an early age, so my mom had like two jobs at a time, plus a part-time job, and I would see that since I was like a kid, you know?
JESSICA VALLEJO: His mother's struggle ignited the fire in him to chase his dreams.
JORGE MASVIDAL: So I adopted a lot of those traits, I can say, since young. And it's the reason why I go to the gym, the reason I'm 36 and I outwork everybody.
JESSICA VALLEJO: His passion for fighting began when he was a child. As a teenager, he tells me he had to sleep in a car and sometimes under a gym ring to make ends meet.
JORGE MASVIDAL: Do I pay rent right now for like the next six months, or save that money, sleep in my car, got more money for food? I need food to go to the gym.
JESSICA VALLEJO: But his sacrifice started to pay off. At the age of 18, Masvidal began fighting in the backyards against Kimbo Slice, his protege. The fights, filmed on YouTube, were watched by millions. But one of those eyes observing was his father, watching on replay from a television in prison.
I mean doing it and getting noticed, like, in the street. Do you think you made your dad proud?
JORGE MASVIDAL: You know, when the video finally got big and stuff, he was telling all his buddies, he was like, "that's my son!" They're like, "that's not your son." He's like, "yeah, man, it's the same kid that's been coming here forever." When I went in there one of the times, they were like, "man, that's really your son!" And it was, it was, I could see it in his face and he was, like, proud. So I knew I was in the right path.
- Jorge "Gamebred" Masvidal!
JESSICA VALLEJO: Masvidal began fighting professionally, and four years into it, he had his father by his side, not missing one of his MMA fights. It was the start of Jorge Masvidal's resurrection.
- Wow, unbelievable!
JESSICA VALLEJO: To marking UFC's fastest knockout in five seconds--
To being crowned UFC titles--
- Congratulations on the BMF title.
JESSICA VALLEJO: Reminiscing on his journey, Masvidal says he is not proud, but grateful.
Did you ever think you would be here?
JORGE MASVIDAL: The older I got, I was like, yes. I'm going to be sitting in this seat talking about some of the biggest fights in the sport. I knew I could do this, because I've gone through so much more than this guy could ever offer. And I know it for a fact because I already fought him. So there's a lot of moments that just give me more fire to go forward. You know, a lot of incidents that I'm like, it's going to be my day one way or another.
JESSICA VALLEJO: What an inspirational man. Now, Masvidal wanted me to share a special message for those that have a dream. He says, look up to the ceiling and keep your head up. The platform has been given to you to succeed. In the studio, Jessica Vallejo, CBS 4 News Tonight.