Mixed martial arts fans might think that Jorge Masvidal would have nothing on his mind this weekend except UFC 251 at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. They would be wrong. Masvidal has gone all-in on the Goya boycott controversy just ahead of his fight against welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
What does the Goya boycott story have to do with UFC 251?
The separation of sports and politics was already teetering on the brink of extinction by the time Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised clenched fists on the awards podium. The convergence has reached full speed half a century later.
With NBA and NFL players immersed in Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick, and the Washington Redskins mascot, it turns out UFC fighters are also active in the day’s hot societal issues. In this case, however, UFC veteran Jorge Masvidal is supporting the target of the criticism.
Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic owned food company in the country, is being threatened with boycotts after company CEO Robert Unanue said the United States is “blessed” to be led by President Donald Trump. He made the statement Thursday at a White House signing ceremony.
Unanue likened the president to his grandfather, a Spanish immigrant who founded the massive food company headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1936. Condemnation of Unanue and Goya began on social media shortly afterward, replete with the requisite #BoycottGoyaFoods hashtag.
Jorge Masvidal has a battle of his own ahead
The UFC 251 card is loaded with three championship bouts. The most intriguing has to be welterweight Kamaru Usman defending against Jorge Masvidal, who was brought aboard a week before the fight after Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19.
Usman vs. Masvidal had been proposed as far back as last December and was still thought to be possible as recently as last month before Masvidal went public with displeasure over his contract. He regained a lot of lost leverage when Burns had to be scratched on such short notice, and Masvidal negotiated a new contract on short notice.
“Now, I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. But I got very, very close to it,” he said, “so I’m taking the fight.”
Getting that out of the way less than a week before UFC 251 apparently left Masvidal with all sorts of time on his hands to dive into the Goya boycott controversy even though he’s going to be put into the octagon against one of the most impressive champions in the sport.
Jorge Masvidal stands up for Goya CEO Robert Unanue
After hearing calls for a boycott of Goya Foods, UFC welterweight Jorge Masvidal defended company CEO Robert Unanue and his comments about the president.
“Actions of @GoyaFoods speak louder than the #woke mob,” Masvidal wrote on Twitter. “My people don’t get influenced by those that don’t know. They’ve been helping our people when we needed it most.”
Masvidal, who was born in Miami to a Cuban father and Peruvian mother, was in part referencing a story about Goya donating a million pounds of food following Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in late 2017.
His stance resulted in Masvidal taking some hits from critics on Twitter, but he can brush those aside if Masvidal can handle what Kamaru Usman throws at him at UFC 251.