By: Jesse Donathan
UFC 244 took place at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 2, 2019 and featured a main event fight between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal for the UFC’s inaugural Baddest Motherf*cker (BMF) title. Although not a legitimate championship belt, the media and fan frenzy in the lead up to the main event bout dwarfed all but the most significant of UFC championship title fights in coverage for a belt that is reported to have cost $50,000 alone to deliver.
Following the weigh-ins on Friday, UFC personality Joe Rogan asked Diaz to share his thoughts on opponent Jorge Masvidal and what the fight for the UFC’s “Baddest Motherf*cker” title meant to the Stockton, California native. “All that matters,” said Diaz, “Is that I came with the greatest fighter of all-time, Nick Diaz, and I got the Nick Diaz army with me and we here to take motherf*ckers out.”
According to ESPN reporter Brett Okamoto, another all-time great was in attendance for UFC 244 Saturday night as well, none other than the legendary professional boxer himself, Roberto Duran. “For those who missed my report on the prelims,” wrote Okamoto in his November 2, 2019 Twitter social media post, “Retired boxer Roberto Duran took Jorge Masvidal to dinner last night. Victor’s Cafe, same place he used to eat before he fought in New York. 37 years ago, Duran won his first world title in MSG. Tonight he’ll walk out with Jorge,” reported ESPN’s Okamoto.
Photo Credit: UFC Twitter Account
Right off the bat in round one, Masvidal would attempt to blitzkrieg Diaz in much the same fashion as he did to previous opponents (and victims) Darren Till and Ben Askren. Obviously well prepared, Diaz would circle out and avoid the storming Masvidal in what must have no doubt been a revolutionary concept for Masvidal’s previous two opponents. Not afraid to mix it up, Diaz would immediately set about taking the fight to Masvidal from the start, coming straight for his American Top Team trained opponent. Turning the tables, the veteran Masvidal would momentarily pin Diaz against the fence before Diaz, fighting his way out, was met with a flurry of knee’s and elbows that sent the Stockton, California native reeling backwards before catching punches and finally a head kick that sent Diaz crashing to the mat.
On his back for some time as a standing Masvidal landed numerous blows, Diaz was obviously busted up and seemingly at Masvidal’s mercy as a break in the action from referee Dan Miragliotta enabled Diaz to stand up, making his way back to his feet. In a somewhat questionable decision after the action resumed, Diaz would fight his way back into the clinch with Masvidal where he would again get roughed up before the two found themselves back in the center of the Octagon. With Diaz walking Masvidal down and landing some pretty good shots of his own, the round would go on to end with more clinching against the fence in a 10-9 edge for Masvidal.
The second round would begin with Diaz looking noticeably busted up, the right side of his face sporting a cut above the brawl with a noticeable mouse already forming below the eye. Again, wasting no time, Diaz would come right for Masvidal as the California native seemingly invited himself into Masvidal’s corner to get the start of the second period underway.
Switching between western boxing and Tae Kwon Do stances, Diaz would at times appear to be bored and lackadaisical in the cage, lacking a sense of urgency for a fighter clearly down a round on the judges score cards. With the action beginning to pick up, Diaz would throw a lazy leg kick before going on to catch a right cross from Masvidal that sent Diaz reeling backwards as a body kick, left hook combination would ultimately floor the Cesar Gracie Jiu-jitsu black belt once again.
In a scene eerily reminiscent of round 1, Diaz was again flat on his back and fighting a pressing Masvidal off before “Gamebred” backed off and allowed the now mangled Diaz to return to his feet. The two fighters would engage in a stand up battle for much of the remaining part of the second round, with Masvidal clearly getting the better of the Cesar Gracie Fight Team product before a rather entertaining grappling exchange at the end of the round found Masvidal on top of a game Diaz as the end of the round came to a close. 10-9 Masvidal.
In the corner shortly before the beginning of the third, Diaz could be seen with a noticeable amount of Vaseline over his right eye, the damage sustained from the previous two rounds beginning to mount. The two would actively engage each other in a stand-up affair for a good part of the opening portion of the third, with Diaz beginning to show a sense of urgency while “Gamebred” was more than holding his own as the two went at it.
The third round was perhaps Diaz’s best round, though he was constantly plagued with vision problems throughout as the blood from the opened wounds poured down the young UFC stars face. After a brief period of inactivity with Masvidal pinning Diaz against the fence, the fighters would once again find themselves on the mat with Masvidal in top position as the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt Diaz defended himself well from the blows raining down from above. The horn would go on to sound, marking the end of what was another clear 10-9 outing for American Top Team’s Jorge Masvidal.
With the ringside physician closely examining Diaz in between rounds, it was ultimately determined that a protesting Diaz could no longer continue due to the damage sustained to the right side of his face throughout the previous three rounds of the action. And with that, Jorge Masvidal is the UFC’s inaugural Baddest Motherf*cker, taking the BMF title back home to the American Top Team headquarters in Coconut Creek, Florida where it belongs.
Though now officially crowned the UFC’s baddest, Masvidal has always been a tough fighter and an unofficial heir to the throne. In a sport increasingly populated with athletes, Jorge is a legitimate tough guy from the mean streets of Miami where street fighting is a known commodity. In fact, Masvidal himself is a known street fighter, claiming YouTube fame in a widely viewed backyard street fight video with none other than the late, great Kimbo Slice himself in attendance to take in Masvidal’s symphony of destruction.
In mixed martial arts, Jorge has never been an easy night out for anyone and has perpetually skirted the ranks as a dangerous fighter capable of beating anybody on any given night. Following back-to-back losses in 2017 to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu master Demian Maia and Karate phenom Stephen Thompson, Masvidal would take the entirely of 2018 off before going on to knock out Darren “The Gorilla” Till in convincing fashion at UFC Fight Night 147 earlier this year.
Not finished there, Masvidal went on to deliver his legendary 3-piece and a soda to rising UFC welterweight star Leon Edwards backstage immediately following the Till baptizing after some passing verbiage from the young British fighter which obviously did not set very well with the Miami street fighting legends liking. It would not be unfair to characterize this as a turning point in Masvidal’s career, the incident with Edwards combined with the emphatic knockout of Till at UFC Fight Night 147 cementing Masvidal’s mystique in the public’s imagination as a legitimate tough guy and perhaps even more importantly, establishing “Gamebred” as a needle mover in the UFC’s painfully stagnant welterweight division.
For a lot of fighters, this could be where the story ended, their string of good luck and fortune inevitably winding down to its eventual conclusion. But not for Masvidal; seemingly handpicked by the MMA gods to finish the job former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler failed to complete against NCAA wrestling legend Ben Askren at UFC 235, “Gamebred” was matched up against Askren at UFC 239 where Masvidal promptly grabbed the bull by the horns once again, flatlining Askren in a promotional record 5-seconds even, the fastest knockout in UFC history.
It’s a story that can only be described as nothing short of destiny, as the road was paved in blood for Masvidal’s eventual showdown Saturday night against Diaz for the UFC’s inaugural Baddest Motherf*cker title, where the Miami street fighting legend claimed his rightful place atop the throne, leaving no doubt who baddest man in the UFC’s welterweight division truly is. With former interim welterweight champion and American Top Team teammate Colby Covington vying for a spot against the division’s champion Kamaru Usman, its anyone’s guess what the immediate future holds for “Gamebred” Masvidal though a rematch against Diaz is already said to be reportedly in the works.
Waiting in the wings remains the vengeance seeking Leon Edwards and the “Notorious” one himself, Conor McGregor, whose career is no doubt in desperate need of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation following serious legal charges and a lopsided loss to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October of 2018. The fallout of which could no doubt be smoked screened and overshadowed by the resulting media frenzy sure to follow in the announcement of McGregor vying for the UFC’s newly created BMF title belt. Going out on a limb here, with no inside knowledge to share, I would not be in the least bit surprised to see Masvidal skip Covington in the UFC’s welterweight championship title picture to go on to challenge Kamaru Usman for the real welterweight championship crown.