What’s not to enjoy about pre-fight smack talk and drama ahead of an upcoming bout, especially between two great fighters and a for duel that UFC fans have been looking forward to for a long time. That said, the drama ahead of UFC 244 came like a sucker punch from nowhere, when Nate Diaz announced he wouldn’t be fighting Jorge Masvidal on November 3rd at Madison Square Gardens, after failing a drugs test for a banned substance.
Nevertheless, the response from Masvidal was supportive, as was the swift and thorough investigation by the UFC, quickly clearing Diaz of any wrongdoing, declaring the fight would indeed go ahead as scheduled. Although it had been a somewhat unsavoury episode, given the outburst by Diaz and his criticism of the fight scene, all that matters now is we’ll have the battle we’ve been waiting for against Masvidal.
Everyone will have their favourite ahead of this potentially thrilling bout, while some believe it might be too tight to call. That said, the latest betting on UFC has Masvidal tipped to win, even though Diaz will pose a seriously strong challenge in this battle between these two great warriors. Will the bookmakers be right? Well, on paper these are two very evenly matched fighters, in age and respective fight records.
Two of the Baddest Mother F***ers in UFC
As the marquee fight at UFC 244 on November 3rd, battling for the BMF belt no less, this is one bout that is expected to have everyone on the edge of their seats. We’re talking about two guys who have treated fans to some amazing fights over the years, with both having won and lost against some of the best combatants you’ll find in the octagon. It’s also why this fight is generating such hype and excitement.
The fight. The marketing strategy.— MMA History Today (@MMAHistoryToday) September 20, 2019
Nate Diaz is responsible for all of this. pic.twitter.com/kPX24L4fsj
As the younger brother of retired MMA pioneer Nick Diaz, it’s fair to say that Nate Diaz was always likely to become a top-quality fighter in his own right. After a promising early cage career, then winning The Ultimate Fighter 5 in 2007, Diaz earned his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in May 2012. That same year he faced another Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Jim Miller, impressively stopping the latter for the first time in his career to win the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Diaz was fairly inactive afterwards with just five fights between December 2012 and December 2015, losing three and winning two. However, a golden opportunity presented itself in March 2016 when Rafael dos Anjos was forced to pull out of a headline fight with Connor McGregor. Stepping in at the last minute for UFC 196, having only had a few days to prepare, Diaz stunned the MMA scene by beating McGregor into submission in the second round.
Nevertheless, Diaz couldn’t repeat that performance when a rematch was swiftly agreed for UFC 202. This time it was McGregor who emerged victorious after a thrilling fight that went the distance, with a majority decision to decide the final outcome in favour of the Irishman. After three years outside the octagon, including a cancelled headline bout against Dustin Poirier for UFC 230, 34-year-old Diaz finally returned in August 2019 at UFC 241 with a TKO win against Eddie Alvarez.
31 matches, 20 wins, 11 losses (knockout 4-1, submission 12-1, decision 4-9)
Fighting was always going to be a way of life for Masvidal, from street fights and the wrestling ring as a youth, then taking his first steps in mixed martial arts. Whether it was professional boxing, kickboxing or MMA, he was a rising star hungry for success who enjoyed success in multiple disciplines, eventually signing up with UFC in 2013 after earlier spells with AFC, Strikeforce and Bellator.
While it’s fair to say that his journey in UFC has been mixed, alongside the victories enjoyed, Masvidal has also suffered his fair share of defeats in the octagon. That said, nobody in UFC has beaten him by knockout, with all defeats coming via decision outcomes. On the contrary, it’s also the knockouts he’s dished out to other fighters, which make the 34-year-old such an exciting fighter to watch.
After a layoff lasting 16 months, Masvidal made a fantastic return to action by destroying Darrin Till in March 2019, the power of his punches proving too much in a second-round knockout win. Even more spectacular was the next fight at UFC 239, requiring just 5 seconds and a flying knee to floor Ben Askren in Las Vegas, recording the fastest knockout in UFC history. Simply put, his rival didn’t know what hit him and certainly didn’t see it coming.
47 matches, 34 wins, 13 losses (knockout 15-1, submission 2-2, decision 17-10)
Who Will Win?
There’s no doubt these are two fighters who have made a lasting impression in MMA, sharing comparable pro fight records that would suggest they’re very evenly matched ahead of UFC 244, while very much deserving of their top billing at this event. However, it’s hard to shake the impression that Diaz hasn’t fought regularly enough in recent years. Masvidal is in great shape and devastating form right now, which is why he’s the clear favorite for this bout.
MAKE YOUR PICKS BELOW
Jorge Masvidal (34-13) vs. Nate Diaz (20-11)
Kelvin Gastelum (15-4, 1NC) vs. Darren Till (17-2-1)
Stephen Thompson (14-4-1) vs. Vicente Luque (17-6-1)
Derrick Lewis (21-7, 1NC) vs. Blagoy Ivanov (18-2, 1NC)
Kevin Lee (17-5) vs. Gregor Gillespie (13-0)