UFC 244 took place in the world's most famous arena, Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 2, 2021. The night was promoted with the symbolic UFC BMF (baddest motherf*cker) championship, Nate Diaz competing against Jorge Masvidal for the celebratory honor.
The East Coast versus West Coast battle between the two UFC welterweight contenders marked the 500th edition of a UFC live event. UFC 244 was promoted by Hollywood star and former WWE champion Dwayne Johnson, who accepted the duty after his longtime friend Masvidal's invitation.
Masvidal was coming to the fight from two impressive appearances. First, a dominant fight against Darren Till, which earned him both 'Performance' and 'Fight of the Night' accolades in UFC Fight Night 147. This was followed by another 'Performance of the Night,' when he set the record for the fastest KO in UFC history, sending Ben Askren to the canvas within five seconds of battle.
On the other hand, Diaz came into this after engaging in one of the biggest UFC feuds ever with Conor McGregor, followed by a win over Anthony Pettis. In two fights with the Irishman, Diaz won the first encounter before losing via majority decision in the second. Both bouts received 'Fight of the Night' awards.
Besides the UFC BMF belt, the winner of UFC 244 was set to face either Kamaru Usman or Colby Covington after their welterweight title fight. And that was what happened in UFC 251 earlier this year when Masvidal fell short vs Usman.
Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal fought for the BMF championship at UFC 244
Jorge Masvidal started by setting the tone that would follow for the rest of the most electrifying bout of UFC 244. In the first seconds, Masvidal tries to hit Nate Diaz with a flying knee, but Diaz is able to dodge the attack, all the while smiling and taunting. This was an attitude that backfired quickly. In the next few movements, Masvidal connected an elbow and kick combo to Diaz's face, sending the 'Stockton Slugger' straight to the canvas.
Somehow, Diaz manages to recover and finish the first round before Masvidal goes for the KO. But clearly hurt and all bloodied up, Diaz struggles for the rest of the fight, which Masvidal controlled entirely. Although Diaz has his moments, it is not enough to reach the same level as Masvidal's performance in the UFC 244 main event.
At the beginning of the fourth round, the doctor comes into the octagon to take a closer look at Diaz's eyebrow. Diaz had a nasty cut in his face since the first round when Masvidal landed that combo. Despite Diaz's efforts in convincing the doctor that he could continue fighting, the bout ends by doctor stoppage. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson enters the cage at UFC 244 to give the UFC BMF belt to his friend Masvidal, who is also annoyed by how the fight had to end.
In his victory speech, after he had his arm raised, Masvidal lamented the way everything went, and said he would be happy to fight Nate Diaz again to prove he could beat him without the doctor's interference.
"I told Nate right now: I swear we're running it back. You gave me the love. Let's run it back," Masvidal said in the octagon of UFC 244. "I hate leaving the cage with my opponents conscious. There's only one way to do it - that's to baptise him. I didn't get to baptise Nate."
Although it was a disappointing ending to the first UFC BMF title fight, the doctor's intervention in the UFC 244 bout was accepted unanimously afterward when the cut to Diaz's eyebrow was examined closely. Even UFC president Dana White who was initially upset by the doctor's stoppage, recognized that it was the right call.
"I walked back, and I saw Nate Diaz. His eyebrow [was] literally flipped over in front of his eye, and he had another huge gash under his eye, and then I started thinking, 'you know, it's easy sitting over there in my chair thinking [that] the fight shouldn't be stopped,'" White said after UFC 244. "The reason we love Diaz so much is because he's so tough and durable and everything else, but I don't know. These things happen."
Diaz obviously didn't want the fight to be stopped and said his strategy was to take Masvidal to the fourth and fifth round where he could display his endurance and stamina.
"I didn't think they were going to stop it. I was just getting started," said Diaz. "I had a little bit of issues today. I couldn't run as much as I usually do. My game plan was starting to kick in, but he [Masvidal] got the job done like he was supposed to, so props to Jorge for what he did, but I'm coming back for you."
After the UFC 244 main event, Diaz would threaten to "whoop Dwayne Johnson's a**" for the actor's behavior. Although Johnson tried to hide his preference for Masvidal and remain neutral during the event promotion, he couldn't hide his happiness while giving the UFC BMF belt to his friend.
Johnson was fast to disable any further UFC 244 disagreements with Diaz.
"I wasn't surprised at Nate's comments because that's the Nate that we all know and love," Johnson said in an interview. "He is as advertised. Nate, he gets it. He knows that me and Jorge, we're boys; we're from Miami. We have a lot of deep connections down there. A lot of the fighters we know, a lot of the coaches and trainers that we know, a lot of the gyms that we've been to down there. So there's a connection, so no, I was totally fine with it. He gets it."
The outcomes of UFC 244
Jorge Masvidal cemented his right to a title shot after winning the UFC BMF championship against Nate Diaz at UFC 244. He faced UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 251. But Usman was able to defend his belt for the second time in his career.
Diaz didn't have any fights during 2020. His last appearance in the octagon was the defeat to Masvidal in UFC 244. While he still expects his UFC BMF revenge opportunity against Masvidal to come, the bout seems more and more unlikely to happen. A third fight with Conor McGregor or a matchup with Dustin Poirier are the most exciting propositions for the UFC and Diaz right now.Published 20 Dec 2020, 04:00 IST