UFC's Jorge Masvidal keeps door open for return to cage

Jorge Masvidal will never rule out an MMA comeback (2:55)

Jorge Masvidal discusses his love of MMA and says "I'll never say I'll never come back." (2:55)

Three weeks after he announced his UFC retirement after competing at UFC 287 in his hometown of Miami, Jorge Masvidal is a busy man. He's promoting his Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA show next week and is excited to announce his next Gamebred Boxing card in the near future.

Fighting and martial arts have been part of Masvidal's life since he was a teenager, and he has no plans to leave the business. Although he expects to be a full-time combat sports promoter now and well into the future, Masvidal also has a hard time saying he'll stay away from the cage forever.

The UFC BMF champion told ESPN on Friday that he cannot completely close the door on a return to competition.

"I love this sport so f---ing much, bro," Masvidal said. "So, I'll never say I'll never come back, because I love it so much, in a moment I can have so many great memories that just fill me and will stay with me forever about this sport. So, I'll never say I can't come back."

Masvidal, 38, has said for years that if he's no longer in the conversation for the UFC welterweight title, he would step away. After losing by unanimous decision to Gilbert Burns on April 8, Masvidal announced his retirement from the Octagon in his postfight interview. He has lost four straight, albeit all against top 170-pound fighters in the world. Last week, Masvidal's name was removed from the official UFC rankings. He said he's not sure whether he's out of the USADA drug testing pool.

The reason Masvidal felt it was the right time was that he feels as if he has lost a bit of a step in training. He's still very athletic and competitive with some of the best fighters at welterweight, but he said he can feel a difference.

"I've been feeling from 34 [years old] to 37 that, in that department and solely in that department, my reflexes and reaction time took a big dip," Masvidal said. "It's not where it used to be when I was 35, even. ... So, it's slightly slowed up in the smallest of ways, just a millisecond off. But that millisecond off when we're talking about that I'm fighting snipers and f---ing sharpshooters on the other side -- it counts a lot because I'm not here at some random event. I'm here fighting the world's best every time out."

Masvidal's Gamebred Boxing card April 1 was a success, and he'll put on the promoter hat again May 5 for Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA, the first-ever bare-knuckle MMA event to be sanctioned by the Florida Boxing Commission. The event, set for Sunrise, Florida, is headlined by former UFC fan favorite heavyweight Roy Nelson against Dillon Cleckler. Former PFL champion Emiliano Sordi and former UFC knockout artist Anthony Njokuani are also on the card. Bare-knuckle has a special place in Masvidal's heart as someone who fought alongside the likes of Kimbo Slice on the backyard fighting circuit in Miami years ago.

"I think martial arts without the gloves, it's a little different," Masvidal said. "Like for starters, a lot of people don't know this, but the submission rates go through the roof when you're taking these gloves off, because this little bit of padding mixed with the hand wrap messes with the grip a little bit, the way the glove kind of fits in there. So, it's something a little bit more precise. Everything has to be more precise. You can't just throw a punch and then hit somebody on the top of the head, [because] you wreck your hands. So, you gotta be aiming for the softer spot straight for the chin."