There can only be one! Monster Energy congratulates Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal on winning the main event fight against Nate Diaz at UFC 244 in New York City on Saturday night. In front of a capacity crowd of more than 20,000 spectators at Madison Square Garden and millions of viewers tuned in worldwide, the 34-year-old from Miami, Florida, took the victory by TKO via doctor stoppage between rounds three and four.
The high-profile fight also earned Masvidal the UFC’s newly created ‘BMF’ belt for the official title of ‘Baddest Motherf***er’ on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) circuit.
Broadcast across the globe as the UFC’s 500th live event, Saturday night’s headline welterweight bout between Diaz and Masvidal was one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history. Two of the burliest mixed martial arts fighters of all time collided in the Octagon cheered on by an energetic live audience in New York that included MMA stars, celebrities, and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Masvidal came into the fight as a betting odds favorite after taking out Ben Askren within five seconds at UFC 239 in July, setting the record for the fastest knockout in UFC history. But nobody expected a fast finish against Nate Diaz: The 34-year-old MMA icon from Stockton, California, has proven himself a marathon fighter who can go the distance and demolish opponents late in the game with street fighting tactics. And freshly returned from a nearly three-year absence, Diaz (21-12-0) welcomed the chance to battle it out for the ‘BMF’ belt against Masvidal.
With energy levels running high, the five-round fight at Madison Square Garden took less than a minute to escalate. After the two opponents locked into an early clinch, Masvidal sent Diaz to the canvas with a punishing elbow followed by a heavy kick to the head that opened a nasty cut above the eye. Bleeding from the laceration, Diaz fought to get back on his feet and kept facing the pressure as Masvidal controlled the pace.
Masvidal continued to dominate the second round and staggered Diaz again with a precise right hand to the head. But Diaz not only absorbed massive damage from Masvidal’s heavy body kicks and brutal punch combos. The California native also fired back, landing surprise southpaw shots and attempting to engage Masvidal in his dangerous ground game.
The third round of the fast-paced matchup saw both fighters exchanging big punches, Diaz proving his robustness as Masvidal landed blows that would have taken out lesser opponents. Round three ended with both fighters locked into a grapple on the ground, Masvidal raining punishing punches and elbows to the head from above.
As both fighters readied to commence the fourth round, the cage-side physician inspected the cut above Diaz’s right eye, which had bled significantly since round one. Although Diaz insisted he was in good shape to continue, the fight was ruled a TKO due to doctor stoppage, much to the disappointment of fans who expected to see a battle to the finish.
“The only strategy was to take him out,” said Masvidal in New York. “Nate’s a dog. I was hyped and ready to go in the fourth round. I could see it in his eyes, too.”
Masvidal received the ‘BMF’ Belt from ex-WWE champion and Hollywood star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in recognition of dominating what went down as an epic 15-minute battle. The massive celebratory belt is inscribed with the number ‘244’ on the front to commemorate UFC 244, and ‘500’ on the back representing the UFC’s 500thevent.
In his ringside interview, Masvidal respected the referee’s call to end the fight after round three. But both Masvidal and Diaz also immediately called for a rematch before leaving the Octagon.
“I told Nate right now… let’s run it back,” said Monster Energy’s Masvidal upon winning the main event at UFC 244, adding: “I don’t like to leave the ring like this with my opponent conscious. We’re going to run it back. Don’t worry about it, it’s going to happen again.”
Now that he’s officially the ‘Baddest MF’ in UFC fighting, what’s next for Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal? With a professional fighting record now at 35 wins to 13 losses – and 16 of those wins attained by knockout – the next milestone is obvious: The rising UFC star, who emerged from the South Florida backyard bare-knuckle fighting circuit, wants a welterweight title fight. Experts see him as the prime contender for the winner of the upcoming main event bout between Colby Covington and reigning UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 245 Las Vegas on December 14.
“I want that belt and every other belt I can get my hands on. I’m not even joking,” said Masvidal in the post-fight press conference on Saturday night.