The UFC 244 Post-Fight Press Conference and Moving Forward
By: Jesse Donathan
Jorge Masvidal claimed the UFC’s Baddest Motherf*cker title Saturday night, defeating the game Nate Diaz by third round TKO doctor stoppage. Though a clear and convincing victory for Masvidal, there seems to be some question surrounding the efficacy of the ringside physician’s decision to stop the fight and how the next two championship rounds would have ultimately panned out for the victorious American Top Team welterweight representative. Immediately following the ringside physician’s decision to bring a halt to the context, Diaz and Masvidal met in the center of the Octagon and seemed to have words centering around how the contest ultimately played out.
“You guys said it,” Diaz wrote on Twitter social media immediately following the fight with a picture attached to the message of Masvidal and himself going back and forth following his third round TKO loss over the weekend in Madison Square Garden. “Don’t back out motherf*cker, I see the f*ckery coming my way already,” Diaz wrote in expressing his doubt that the publicly stated rematch with Masvidal would actually come to fruition.
Photo Credit: UFC Twitter Account
Immediately following Masvidal’s UFC 244 victory for the promotions inaugural Baddest Motherf*cker title, the attention quickly turned to what’s next for the man they call “Gamebred” at the UFC 244 post-fight press conference. According to a November 3, 2019 MMAJunkie.com Twitter social media post, “Conor McGregor has said that he is going to come back January 18th, the opponent Dana White said,” a reporter queried to Masvidal before being interrupted, “Come back to what?” asked Masvidal. “Too MMA, to the UFC,” the reporter replied. Obviously two steps ahead of the journalist, “What do you mean, like fighting in the cage?” Jorge replied.
“Yeah,” the reporter answered, seemingly unaware that he was being led down the promotional road of soundbite wizardry. “I don’t know man,” said Masvidal. “That dude has been talking for an (inaudible) what, second. If he fights and gets a victory and he wants this,” explained Masvidal, while motioning to himself with food in his hand, “And some of you motherf*ckers are mean man, ‘cause you know what the f*ck I’ll do to that little dude bro, I’ll f*ck that little guy up man, he’s a f*cking midget,” said Masvidal with the kind of confidence and vibrato that comes with knowing you’re the Baddest Motherf*cker in the room.
On a roll, the 18-fight UFC veteran wasn’t nearly through there either. “Dana White,” said Masvidal as he made eye contact with everyone at press row, “The president of this mothaf*ckin’ company, said that I’m too much man for him.” In what can only be described as a hood, street talk, Masvidal went on to deliver promotional gold in dressing McGregor down in front of the mixed martial arts media gathered to celebrate his UFC 244 victory over Nate Diaz.
“I get it, why people want to see him hurt for the stunts that he’s been pulling,” said Masvidal. “But he don’t want this shit, he’s just talking so he can get his name out there. He was cheering for Nate, he wanted to run it back with Nate,” explained Jorge. “You think he’s at home seeing that fight and saying I want to fight that dude? That dude ain’t retarded, you see he punches old people in the face because those are the fights that he could win. He don’t want this shit,” said Masvidal.
With the reporter attempting to move on to another question, “Gamebred” wasn’t having any part of it. “No, no,” said Masvidal shaking his head. “You know he doesn’t want this shit. Dana and them might try to promote it, I don’t even think Dana is going to promote that fight, because you can’t get that guy to sign the paper,” said Masvidal.
As originally reported in an October 31, 2019 BloodyElbow.com report titled, “UFC ‘looking at’ Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone for January,” author Nick Baldwin writes that, “UFC president Dana White confirmed Wednesday that the promotion is considering booking the Irishman against Donald Cerrone at a Jan. 18 pay-per-view card in Las Vegas, likely to be called UFC 246.” According to Baldwin, “White said that the fight is far from official, however.”
The UFC’s original BMF according to MMAFighting.com, Donald Cerrone (36-13, 10 KOs) has 33-fights with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in a career spanning 14 years in the making, approximately nine of which have been spent as an athlete fighting under the sports premiere mixed martial arts banner. By anyone’s count, Cerrone is among the most diligent workers in the organization, regularly bouncing back and forth between the UFC lightweight and welterweight divisions, fighting some of the sports premiere up-and-coming talent and promotional assets in the process where victory was often times anything but certain. A fight against McGregor would almost certainly be among the most critical of the aging Cerrone’s career, and perhaps one of the most lucrative as well.
According to an August 22, 2016 MMAJunkie.com article titled, “Full UFC 202 salaries: McGregor, Diaz get $5 million of reported $6.1 million payout,” Diaz was paid upwards of $2 million for winning the Conor McGregor sweepstakes in their UFC 202 rematch. Having hand selected and cherry picked smaller opponents throughout the duration of his UFC career, McGregor made a crucial error at UFC 196 in selecting Diaz for his UFC welterweight debut, and while looking like a fish out of water once the fight inevitably hit the mat, McGregor was promptly submitted in the second round by the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt.
The rematch at UFC 202 was a different story however, with Diaz ultimately falling to the Irishman by 5-round majority decision, though paid handsomely even in defeat. The real story however, is what McGregor and the UFC really have in mind; a rematch with the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. (50-0, 27 KOs), which would be a lucrative payday for everyone involved if the initial estimated figures from the first bout are to be believed. Which brings into the focus the ethos behind McGregor seeming receiving the white glove treatment from the UFC brass and the absolutely critical nature in which the stakes ride on Conor McGregor’s next fight inside the ring or cage.
And considering it’s been three years since McGregor last won a fight inside the Octagon, most recently losing to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October of 2018 following a two-year hiatus from the sport, it’s not unfair to characterize Conor McGregor’s career as being in great jeopardy. And with serious legal charges reportedly hanging over the UFC superstars head, another loss inside the Octagon would all but eliminate the possibility of a “Money” Mayweather rematch. Which is where the UFC’s BMF title and their longtime perennial work horses in Masvidal, Diaz and Donald Cerrone come into the picture in my opinion as potential possibilities to save the day.
UFC 244: Jorge Masvidal is the UFC’s Baddest Motherf*cker
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.
UFC 244: Masvidal vs. Diaz for the BMF Belt
By: Jesse Donathan
It’s a conspiracy, or so UFC superstar Nate Diaz alleges in the controversy surrounding his positive test for a performance enhancing drug in the lead up to his UFC 244 showdown with Jorge Masvidal for the promotions newly created BMF title. The resulting backlash from the mainstream media and the sports wildly dedicated fan base was so severe that not only was an acquittal for Diaz quick in the making, but the UFC’s own anti-doping czar, Jeff Novitzky , has reportedly been left openly questioning the very intellectual foundation itself in how the matter of flagged test results could potentially be handled moving forward later down the line in the future.
“You’re all on steroids, not me,” Nate Diaz announced in his October 24, 2019 Twitter social media message in effort to get out in front of the bad news shared with him privately. Attached to the Tweet, an additional message the UFC superstar took the time to type up in a screenshotted text message that read, “I’m not gonna make it out to NYC for (the) fight next week because they say I tested with elevated levels that they say might be from some tainted supplements,” Diaz wrote. “I call false on that because I only take whole food or natural food supplements. I don’t even eat meat,” Diaz explained.
“So, until UFC, USADA or whoever is (expletive) with me fixes it, I won’t be competing. I’m not gonna play their game and try and hide it or keep quiet, as they suggested,” said Diaz. It was the shot heard around the world, heads turned in the mixed martial arts community on the news someone within the UFC or USADA had suggested Diaz hide the flagged, atypical test result. According to Forbes writer Trent Reinsmith, “The story isn’t that Nate Diaz is out of UFC 244, the story is that someone allegedly told him to keep quiet. Find that person, report that story. That’s what matters,” alleges Reinsmith.
The news and mainstream narrative would quickly shift to Diaz being exonerated of any wrong doing, with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reporting that Diaz had in fact been cleared to compete at UFC 244 after all. According to the October 25, 2019 Twitter social media post, “Breaking: Nate Diaz is eligible to compete at UFC 244. USADA has ruled he has not committed an anti-doping violation. Elevated level of SARMS was traced to a contaminated organic, vegan, plant-based daily multivitamin,” reads the Okamoto report.
Originally taped to an October 27, 2019 Chael Sonnen YouTube video titled, “The difference between Jon Jones and Nate Diaz flagged USADA tests…,” Sonnen, a former UFC middleweight championship contender and current ESPN MMA analyst himself, believes that, “The apologies that are owed to Nate Diaz are bountiful, but I don’t see them coming in.”
In classic form, Sonnen didn’t skip a beat in assessing the media firestorm surrounding the Diaz flagged test result. As the Bad Guy Inc. CEO sees it, “So, if you publicly attacked Nate Diaz and now you are left to look like a fool, the apology needs to be done publicly,” said Sonnen. “You did it through social media on Twitter, you got to go back to Twitter and make it right. Or you’re just a scumbag and you can go ahead and be scumbag, I mean, it is the fight business, right?” the seasoned veteran Sonnen leveled for his viewing audience in reviewing the basic facts of the story.
“People say terrible things about one another, but those are the choices. People were very quick to turn on Nate, now I will have to say, most of the people who turned on Nate were completely clean and innocent, and just don’t know, they just don’t know how abundantly clear it is. Take Dustin Poirier by example,” said Sonnen.
“Dustin Poirier, who has never taken anything and is squeaky clean himself, he wouldn’t know. He wouldn’t be like a guy like me who is an expert in this, for all the wrong reasons, but an expert nonetheless, he just wouldn’t know,” said Professor Sonnen. “So, he is going to default to the test.” Continuing, and most interesting to consider, Sonnen went on to remark, “Just by example, a lot of the people who were hard on Nate were very innocent themselves, okay. They weren’t throwing stones and then doing something bad. But wrong? They were wrong,” said Sonnen in getting to the bottom of the matter once and for all.
The Bad Guy’s message apparently made it to all the right parties, including the Dustin Poirier camp, with Poirier himself taking to Twitter social media in an October 28, 2019 post to lay something somewhat reminiscent of an apology out to Diaz, stating that, “… I jumped the gun when news came out that he (Diaz) failed a test. He’s always been a guy who pushed for clean eating and clean sport. I shouldn’t have,” explained the former interim lightweight champion before going on to add that that it, “Doesn’t change the fact that I still want to beat his ass,” said Poirier.
Since joining BoxingInsider.com, I have written a number of articles on the topic of performance enhancing drug use, regularly calling for a paradigm shift in how anti-doping is handled in combat sports across the board. It would seem the countless hours spent kneeling at the altar of sacrifice before the “Just Bleed Gods” has finally paid off as my prayers have been delivered to the high priests of MMA who answered the call. Although it is likely that they only picked the phone up out of necessity, rather than reason, in the face of increased backlash and scrutiny surrounding the way in which the promotion and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) handle their day to day operations amid accusations of conspiracy.
As originally recorded to an October 29, 2019 Luke Thomas YouTube video titled, “Jeff Novitzky Made a Key Admission About Anti-Doping,” the longtime MMA analyst highlighted what he believes to be a potentially “radical change” in anti-doping policy that could be on the horizon.
According to Thomas, ““What is slowly beginning to don on anti-doping authorities, and who again, Jeff Novitzky does not work for USADA, he works for the UFC, is what they’ve found is it’s not merely supplements that are contaminated with trace levels of prohibited substances,” explained Thomas. “They’re finding it in water from the municipal water system, they’re finding it in medications from reputable pharmacies, they’re finding it in foods, they’re finding it in all manners of circumstances where you just can’t believe,” said Thomas.
Going on to cite an October 26, 2019 Josh Gross article for TheAthletic.com titled, “In a ‘contaminated world,’ can common sense prevail with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy?” Thomas highlighted a segment of the report of particular interest to the MMA SiriusXM radio host. As originally written by Gross, “For many years the onus of “strict liability” fell on the fighters, meaning they were the ones responsible for what is in their bodies. Now Novitzky and the UFC are arguing that in some cases the burden must shift from the athlete to the testing authority.”
Referencing Novitzky, Gross went on to write that, “Maybe 10 or 15 years ago when the labs could only detect nanogram level and you didn’t see as much contaminates in the world, that policy was appropriate,” he said. “In this day and age, with those two things happening – the low limits of detection and increased contaminates in our world – I don’t think “strict liability” is the appropriate answer,” said Novitzky.
Admittedly blown away by this revelation from the UFC anti-doping czar, Thomas went on to share his thoughts on the subject and what it could possibly mean for the future of combat sports. “Strict liability is the, is part of and a key corner stone of the intellectual underpinning that makes anti-doping what it is,” explained Thomas. Continuing, “If the world is that contaminated and the detection is that good, as they seem to believe that it is, what are you supposed to do?” a perplexed Thomas asked.
“You can’t force the onus constantly on the athlete,” said Thomas. “He actually thinks the burden should shift to the testing agency. That is an absolute, if that happens, fundamental shift in how anti-doping works. It is an absolute invert. It is literally like saying, not literally, it is kind of like saying, I want to be fair here, you have went from guilty until proven innocent to innocent until proven guilty. That is how utterly monumental that is as an admission,” Thomas concluded.
According to an October 28, 2019 MMAFighting.com article titled, “Nate Diaz blasts ‘made up’ USADA drug testing issue: ‘It was all just a big old bunch of bullsh*t’,” author Damon Martin writes, “The UFC claims that an “organic, vegan, plant-based daily multivitamin” was contaminated with the banned substance LGD-4033—a selective androgen receptor modulator banned at all times for athletes—led to the adverse findings in the drug test.”
Interestingly, the MMAFighting.com report went on to state, “Ultimately, Diaz calls the whole debacle one giant “conspiracy,” and he vehemently denies any accusations made against him, especially considering his feelings on the majority of fighters in the UFC, who he branded as cheaters a long time ago,” said Martin.
According to the report, “’Everybody I’ve been fighting has been on steroids,’ Diaz explained. ‘Most of the people, I don’t want to diss everybody, but most of the people in the UFC, champions or not champion, they’re all on f*cking steroids, and they’re going to pass their tests and they know how to pass their tests. I know, cause I know all them motherf*ckers,’” MMAFighting.com reports.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding Diaz’s reported positive test for elevated levels of a performance enhancing drug, a furor erupted in the mixed martial arts community that brought increased scrutiny and skepticism to the efficacy of the promotions testing program under the United States Anti-Doping Agency, striking at the very intellectual foundation itself in how the two entities conduct their day to day operations. The resulting fallout so severe that the UFC’s own anti-doping czar Jeff Novitzky is openly considering a complete and radical paradigm shift due to the significant pushback and increased scrutiny from the combat sports media and general public as accusations of a conspiracy mount.