The Baddest Motherfucker Will Soon be Crowned

Thanks to Nate Diaz, a shiny new belt will be awarded following a stacked lineup of fights at Madison Square Garden

UFC President Dana White once publically remarked that fan-favourite scrapper Nate Diaz "isn't a needle-mover", inferring that the Stocktonian vet couldn't draw big crowds. Of course, Dana stated that as part of his usual negotiation tactics while Diaz was attempting to get a better contract, but it nonetheless angered MMA fans everywhere and even had the media taking issue with the blatantly silly statement.


It doesn't take a genius to look into Diaz's past performances and viewership to realize that although at the time his older brother Nick was the bigger name, he put asses in seats nonetheless. In fact, The Ultimate Fighter 5 winner had already main evented UFC cards on 5 separate occasions and drew good numbers on each. At the time however, the surface of how big Nathan Diaz would become hadn't even been scratched.


Filling in for an injured Rafael Dos Anjos to take on featherweight kingpin Conor McGregor at UFC 196 in McGregor's move up to lightweight, Nate Diaz would not only move the infamous needle, but send it flying into orbit. With Diaz unlikely to make the 155 pound limit on less than two week's notice and not being in fight shape, McGregor opted to save both fighters from weight cutting by moving the fight to welterweight (170 pounds from the intended 155). Of course that would later lend Conor and his fans the "Nate had a massive size advantage" excuse later, despite the fighters differentiated by about 5 or 6 pounds come fight night, but it wouldn't matter.


In the fight, McGregor came out hard and his powerful straights had Diaz hurt early, as the notoriously slow starting Diaz brother looked to get into the fight and get his own offense going. As the minutes wore on, Diaz was wearing the damage but slowly began landing more of his own pecking shots, working through the gears and finding his range. In the second, McGregor was already wheezing, mouth open, as Diaz's volume continued to pick up, constantly picking away at McGregor, making him move and work and further deplete his limited gas tank. Diaz turned into his prime self, literally slapping McGregor with open hands, taunting the Irish superstar as he wilted from the Diaz brother's famous pressure. A combo put a tired McGregor on wobbly legs, causing him to dive forward in a desperate bid to get the fight to the floor and catch a breather.


His questionable heart sent his world crashing down upon him, as Diaz smashed the Notorious on the ground, cutting through his defenses like butter, Diaz's sublime grappling game in a league of its own compared to the John Kavanaugh-trained fighters of the world. McGregor gave up his back and Diaz sunk in the easy rear-naked choke, McGregor tapping moments later and admitting defeat. After commentator Joe Rogan asked Diaz in the cage what he had to say about shocking the world with his performance, Diaz took the mic and said simply, "I'm not surprised motherfuckers". The massive performance was enough to catapult the longtime vet into superstardom, becoming a household name known by casuals and soccer moms alike in a flash.


A rematch saw McGregor make various adjustments and similarly start out strong, only for the fight to turn into a slugfest while Diaz was oddly missing his trademark cardio despite a long training camp. The razor close fight went to McGregor after five hard rounds in the biggest pay-per-view in UFC history (at the time), all but ensuring a trilogy at some point (that's still yet to materialize).


That was way back in 2016. Since, Nate Diaz went into semi-retirement, repeatedly offered fights by the UFC but refusing to come back for any less than what he felt he was worth. Diaz had made a killing from the McGregor fights and was no longer needing to fight to live, and instead was happy to live his life without fighting unless someone was willing to bring the right amount of cash to entice him back into the sport.


Almost exactly 3 years after his last fight, Diaz finally returned to the Octagon at UFC 241. Serving as the co-main event opposite former lightweight champion and star himself Anthony Pettis, Diaz opted to stay in the welterweight division for his return (Pettis had also moved up to 170 and was coming off a massive superman punch KO over Wonderboy Thompson). On a stacked card with Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier duelling for the heavyweight crown in an epic rematch and Brazilian powerhouse Paulo "Borrachinha" Costa throwing down with hyper-athletic killer Yoel Romero, it was the Diaz-Pettis fight which drew the most buzz on fight week and by far the biggest viewership on video segments online. Even with a 3-year layoff, Diaz was solidified as one of the biggest draws in the sport.


Diaz delivered a classic performance and beat Pettis by decision after a gruelling 15-minute war, then took to the mic to deliver another of his famous profanity-laced post-fight interviews. Stating that he only wanted to fight real fighters from here on out (a dig aimed at the wrestlers and grinders at the top of the division, such as the trash talking Colby Covington and Marty Usman), Diaz called out a fellow OG of the sport, Jorge Masvidal. Talking about his respect for the fellow vet, Diaz stated Masvidal is an East coast gangster, but "he ain't no west coast gangster" and that he'd be happy to give Masvidal a shot at his belt. That belt? The Baddest MotherFucker belt, awarded to him for being the Baddest MotherFucker in the game, according to Diaz.


The fans loved it and the fight was already sold before Diaz left the Octagon, Masvidal always willing to oblige. Masvidal, if you don't know, was on a massive tear himself.


Growing up in the streets of Miami, Jorge Masvidal made his name as a young adult by scrapping in bareknuckle backyard fights alongside his friend (and future Youtube sensation and later MMA star, the late Kimbo Slice). They would get willing participants to brawl in backyards on video then upload the fights to Youtube, quickly becoming some of the first stars in the early days of Youtube. While Kimbo had a bigger name given his size and intimidating appearance, it was Masvidal who was a truly talented fighter, both on his feet and on the mat with his surprising jiu-jitsu game.


Masvidal started as a pro in MMA in 2003 and would soon turn exclusively to proper, sanctioned bouts, earning a reputation as a hard-nosed slugger with a well-rounded skillset and infinite toughness, competing on the regional circuit as well as successful stints in both Bellator and later Strikeforce. After Strikeforce was absorbed by the UFC in 2013, Masvidal got his chance in the major league, and quickly made himself known to the hardcore fans with his penchant for exciting, high-level fights.


While he had the skills and tools to beat people everywhere, with superb boxing and movement, a surprising kicking game, great takedown defense, and excellent jiu-jitsu and grappling control, Masvidal was known to be a bit too relaxed in the cage. Often too willing to let his opponents dictate the pace and even seemingly taking rounds off in close fights, Masvidal was on the receiving end of some extremely close decision losses that arguably could (or even should have) gone his way. In fact, of his 6 UFC losses to date, 4 of them were contentious split decisions.


Even when he came out on top, it seemed like Masvidal had to be inspired to really go for the finish, typically content to go to the scorecards should an opportunity for a finish not arise. After spending much of his career and his first 7 UFC fights at lightweight, Masvidal opted to move back up to welterweight and save himself the trouble of cutting weight. Although many fans thought he'd be too small, his filled out frame made an immediate impact, knocking out top-10 presence Cesar Ferreira in the first round of his UFC welterweight debut.


Once again in his autopilot mode, Masvidal dropped two split decisions before scoring three in a row, including a massive knockout over the always formidable Donald Cowboy Cerrone. A grinding affair with grappling sensation Demian Maia saw Masvidal nullify Maia's vaunted ground game and land some shots in separation, earning him the nod on many scorecards, but unfortunately Masvidal wound up on the bad end of a split decision. A lackluster performance against Stephen Wonderboy Thompson saw the much longer kickboxer pick a hesitant Masvidal apart at range, and it seemed Masvidal's ceiling in the division was clear.


And then Masvidal went on a Spanish reality television show.


The show was essentially an athletic competition between athletes of various backgrounds and sports, but for whatever reason, during the shooting of the show, Masvidal had a revelation. It was time to go for the kill. Time to let loose, time to show the world what he was really made of, and to make sure everyone who got locked into a cage with him learned what fear really is.


After a 16-month break from the UFC, Masvidal went to London England to take on rising British star Darren Till in his backyard. Till had just lost by submission in his first title shot and was looking for a big rebound win, with the odds heavily in his favour alongside a huge size advantage. Till landed early and dropped Masvidal in the opening frame, but Masvidal literally laughed it off and put the pressure on Till, landing solid shots throughout and mixing up his strikes beautifully. In the second round Masvidal began to take over before a beautiful lunging hook sent Till crashing to the canvas. A follow-up shot bounced the brash Englishman's head off the canvas and Masvidal put himself right back into the mix.


After the fight, while giving an interview backstage, Masvidal was rudely interrupted by another brash Englishman, this time Leon Edwards, who had picked up a win earlier in the night. Edwards mouthed off to Masvidal as he walked by, prompting Masvidal to ask him to say it to his face like a man. Masvidal walked to Edwards, hands behind his back to make it clear he wasn't a threat, asking Edwards again to say it to his face. When Masvidal got close, Edwards squared up, a very bad move against a man who cut his teeth fighting in the streets - you square up, that means you're ready to scrap. Masvidal whipped his hands from behind his back and hit Edwards with a clean 3-punch combo before Edwards even knew what hit him. Staff and security quickly jumped in while the cameras there for Masvidal's interview caught the whole incident on film; after Masvidal was escorted to his locker room, Edwards was on camera complaining that he had been assaulted, a wicked cut on his cheek from Masvidal's left hook - more damage came from Masvidal in a single second than from Edward's opponent in an entire 15-minute fight earlier that night.


The incident made waves on social media and drew even more attention to Masvidal's already impressive performance; adding to the fire was Masvidal himself, who shortly after the incident did another interview about the affair, in which he famously described what he hit Leon Edwards with as a "three piece with the soda". T-shirts were made and a star years in the making was thrust into the limelight.


Striking while the iron was hot, Masvidal returned to action shortly after, this time in July of this year. Facing off against the undefeated Olympian wrestler and collegiate wrestling legend Ben Askren, Askren supplied the pre-fight trash talk while Masvidal promised to do his talking in the cage. Askren's witty banter and divisive personality combined with his stellar 19-0 record which had made him the best welterweight outside of the UFC for years had already made him a big draw despite having only 1 fight inside the UFC.


Although the fight was billed under two title fights at UFC 239, the heated bout between Masvidal and Askren was by far the most-talked about and most-hyped fight of the night. Moments before the fight, Askren waited for the ref to signal the start of the bout while Masvidal leaned against the cage in his corner, hands behind his back, relaxed as can be. The ref signalled it was time to go, and they took a few steps toward each other...then Masvidal sprinted forward like a bat out of hell, just a few strides before leaping five feet into the air and blasting the side of Ben Askren's head with his knee. Askren had ducked right into it, instinctively lowering himself down to go after a takedown when he saw Masvidal running toward him. He was out cold on impact, falling to the floor as stiff as a board. Masvidal scrambled upon landing to hammer Askren with two vicious right hand bombs before the ref had a chance to pull him off and signal the end of the fight.


The entire ordeal took just 5 seconds from start to finish, officially making it the fastest KO in UFC history. His post-fight celebration was almost as great as the finish itself; on his hands and knees, Masvidal looked at his fallen foe and mockingly tapped on the mat, as if he was counting him out in a wrestling match. He then hopped to his feet and pranced around the cage before putting his arms to his sides and falling over, mimicking Askren's demise and pretending to be knocked stiff. It was one of the most hilarious celebrations in sports' history and just added to the viral nature of the entire fight, which was over so quickly the entire thing including the celebration can be viewed in a single gif. Despite the official time being 5 seconds, Askren was out cold on the canvas at just 3 seconds - it was only because of the shocking fashion of the finish and being on the outskirts of the cage to begin the match that the ref took so long to get to Masvidal and stop the fight.

And so the fight gods have lined up Miami's Jorge Masvidal to face Stockton's Nate Diaz for the inaugural BMF belt.


That's right, the belt at the top of this article is real. The UFC made the one-off (or so they say) Baddest MotherFucker belt, a $50,000 customized strap which borrows heavily from the UFC's 2019 championship belts, a reality. Dana White went from saying Nate Diaz wasn't a needle-mover, to making a customized made-up championship belt just because Nathan Diaz said it should exist. And to top it off, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will be there to put the belt around the waist of UFC 244's main event winner. Oh, and 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump will be in attendance.


If all that wasn't enough, the event taking place at New York's famous Madison Square Garden Arena will officially mark the 500th event in UFC history. What better way to celebrate than to have two of the most revered originals in the sport scrap it out for the new most coveted title in the sport?


The Matchup


I'll keep things brief here as part of the appeal of this fight is with two tough-as-nails, hard-nosed bangers stepping into the cage, you never know what could happen. That being said, it should come as no surprise that Masvidal is a slight favourite here, and arguably should be much heavier in betting terms.


Diaz's biggest advantage over his opponents is his pace, which starts off slowly but soon builds into an overwhelming force. He's got volume punching in spades and has solid defense after he gets his range, but his long stance has always been susceptible to fighters who can implement a lot of lateral movement and kick his legs, something Masvidal may capitalize on. His grappling game is very strong but he's more an opportunist and isn't very adept at getting the fight to the floor with his average wrestling - instead he capitalizes on mistakes made. While long and lanky, his size isn't very suited for welterweight - there's a reason why he returned to lightweight after a brief stint at 170 earlier in his career, and that was because strong welterweights were ragdolling him around and completely nullifying his game. His fights up at 170 since have been against former featherweight McGregor, who is a natural lightweight and cuts no weight to make 170, and even then he was barely stronger with McGregor in the clinch. His other fight came against another former lightweight in Anthony Pettis, who also made featherweight before, and has just one win at 170, a shocking knockout over Wonderboy who had been shellacking Pettis until the KO. Diaz used his grappling and tired out Pettis after looking horrid on the feet early, though coming off a 3-year hiatus may have been a big factor.


In Masvidal, you have one of the most well-rounded fighters on the planet. His grappling is top notch and the man stalemated Demian Maia of all people on the ground, arguably the greatest grappler in MMA history. His wrestling is excellent, though he's unlikely to use it offensively in this fight unless Diaz really pushes for a clinching match. His boxing and defense is sublime and while Diaz likes to volume strike, Masvidal is a faster puncher who packs a ton of power at welterweight and has legit one-shot KO power. He also has great kicks and knees (just ask Askren) and, most importantly, a gas tank that rivals Nate's own, if it isn't even better. And unlike Nate who has struggled and lost against the big 170-pounders he's faced, Masvidal has shown no such weakness and hasn't been overpowered in any of his welterweight fights.


With Diaz's extremely slow starts (particularly in his last three fights), his slower frame at 170 and likely inability to get Masvidal to the mat, I think Masvidal is going to surprise many with how he handles Diaz. While there's always a possibility the old, relaxed, cerebral Masvidal comes out and is comfortable scoring points toward a close decision, chances are slim to none given his recent rejuvenation and his excitement for this matchup. Look for Masvidal to hurt Diaz early and often; if Diaz survives early it could turn into a back-and-forth dogfight, but the odds are definitely in Masvidal's favour. At just -150, Masvidal is a steal, so if you're going to be placing any bets, place them now.

Other Highlights and Betting Picks


Of course the amazing main event isn't the only great fight on the stacked card - UFC's MSG runs in November have been filled to the brim each year since the sport was finally legalized in the state, and this year is no different.


The co-main event sees Kelvin Gastelum fresh off a fight-of-the-year contender against now champion Israel Adesanya take on Darren Till, a massive welterweight finally moving up to his more natural weight of 185 pounds. Of course, Gastelum used to be a welterweight as well, but thanks to his unprofessional habits outside the cage he was forced up after multiple weight misses. Thankfully that unprofessionalism doesn't extend to his in-cage performances, as the blown up welterweight is a speedy striker with a well-rounded game.


Till on the other hand was a legitimately massive welterweight who missed weight on several occasions - how he ever made 170 I'll never know. Till is coming off back-to-back, dominant losses, to then-champion Tyron Woodley and of course to Jorge Masvidal. Despite being in desperate need of a win, Till is still opting to face top-5 competition as he moves up in weight. Problem is, he simply isn't that good. His advantage at welterweight was his massive size, which gave him a big power and strength edge on his opponents. Here, he'll still be the bigger man, but Kelvin is used to fighting bigger men and makes up for it with speed and skill. Till's defense is sorely lacking and what got him murdered by Masvidal, and although his wrestling defense is solid, his grappling should it hit the floor leaves much to be desired. Kelvin will likely be too much for Till to handle, and the -240 line for Kelvin shows that.


The next fight is an extremely entertaining welterweight scrap between rising star Vicente Luque, and aging kickboxer Stephen Wonderboy Thompson. Luque is on a 6-fight tear including 5 finishes (4 knockouts) and two epic fight of the night winners. A thrilling action-fighter with constant forward pressure, power kickboxing game, and surprisingly adept footwork and cage cutting, Luque is always exciting to watch and has the skills to put him at the top of the heap. Where he hasn't been as good is defensively - his aggression has him taking damage even if he always lands more, and that forward momentum could hurt him against Thompson.


Stephen Thompson is a longtime top contender at welterweight, and arguably could have been given the belt in his first meeting with Tyron Woodley for the title. An extremely talented kickboxer with a long frame and sharp reflexes, Wonderboy's offensive capabilities are still there but his defense has taken a hit in recent fights as he's gotten older. Now 36 years old, Wonderboy took a ton of damage in the Woodley fights and although his body hasn't seemed to visibly slow down, his straight-back karate-style hands down movement has gotten him caught on multiple occasions - his chin and incredible heart allowed him to gut through it in the past, but in his last outing against former lightweight Anthony Pettis, Wonderboy was putting a clinic on Pettis only to be knocked dead by a single punch from Pettis in the second frame.


His chin isn't what it used to be and against Luque, he will need to make his defense a priority for the entire 15-minute affair if he wants to win. He'll likely look to catch Luque early and often as Luque's aggression opens him up to counters, and if he can land clean he may be able to finish Luque - but given Luque's durability and his excellent coaching under kickboxing legend Henri Hooft, I think Luque's footwork and cage control are going to play a major factor and we may see a more controlled, methodical Luque in this one. The near-even odds have Luque as a +100 underdog, so you can double your money if I'm right, but if you feel Wonderboy still has the skills to beat a hungry young killer, -130 on Thompson is a good choice too.


A heavyweight banger between Blagoy Ivanov and fan-favourite Derrick Lewis should either be an exciting brawl, a quick knockout, or a 3 round heavyweight slog. Lewis is coming in with a shockingly trimmed down physique which should help his movement and cardio, but he's still going to have some difficulty catching the crafty Russian, but he always has the chance to end it if a single one of his hammers lands. Ivanov is tough as nails and hits like a truck as well, so this fight really could go either way. Odds are dead even at -115 apiece - I slightly favour Ivanov's chances given Lewis' habits and recent performances, but it's a pick em fight in every sense of the phrase.


Rounding off the main card is New York Gregor Gillespie, who sports a sterling 13-0 record and was an NCAA Division I National Champion and 4x All-American. Despite earning stoppages in 5 of his 6 UFC bouts, the wrestler is painfully boring to watch and just smothers his opponents with his wrestling. He has yet to face a top flight fighter and has oddly been continually pitted against fighters with rather weak wrestling. All that changes as he faces Kevin Lee in Lee's return back to 155 pounds. Lee has a ton of potential and although he doesn't have the credentials that Gillespie has in wrestling, he has a phenomenal ground game and particularly dangerous submissions. His striking has come along well and if he can force Gillespie to stand and trade he should have a major advantage - finally training at a major camp as well for this one, UFC 244 will be Lee's chance to show what he can do under the tutelage of Firas Zahabi at Tri-Star. Gillespie may very well lay on Lee and squeek out a victory, but look for the +140 underdog Lee to take away Gillespie's 0.


On the prelims we have some excellent fights as well, spearheaded by the chaotic Brazilian Johnny Walker (yes that's his real name) as he faces his biggest challenge yet in Corey Anderson. Walker has shown ridiculous power and a penchant for landing insane techniques - his long and lanky frame makes his knees and elbows deadly, and he's put his striking to good use in his 3 UFC fights, all ending within 2 minutes of the first round. Walker assassinated Khalil Rountree with a disgusting elbow in his UFC debut, followed it up with a spinning back fist 15-second KO and then a 36-second flying knee knockout over Misha Cirkunov, a top-15 light heavyweight. Anderson on the other hand has used his strong wrestling and pace to earn a 3-fight winning streak and put himself in the top 5, but has questionable defense and was knocked out badly twice in the two fights before his current run. Anderson will look to test Walker's ground game and wrestling defense, but I think Walker's explosive power and nasty knees/elbows will send Anderson back down the ladder. At -190, it's not the best bet however, so it's best to avoid it.


Lastly, an overlooked gem on the card is a fight between Jairzinho Rozenstruik and legend Andrei Arlovski at heavyweight. Arlovski is an old and weathered fighter and doesn't have much of a chin left, but offensively he's still an amazing fighter and he looked better than we've seen him in a decade in his last fight, a dominant win over big Ben Rothwell. Jairzinho on the other hand is an absolute monster - the 8-0 beast from Suriname is a former kickboxer with a record of 76-6 with a whopping 64 knockouts. Add to that are 7 KOs so far in his 8 MMA fights, including two in the UFC. The 250 pound behemoth has shockingly fast hands and legs and disturbing power to coincide with a polished striking arsenal, something extremely rare at heavyweight. His grappling has also looked solid and his cardio has held up nicely in the one fight he saw a second round in, which saw him cautious in the opening round of his UFC debut only to slaughter his foe in the second. His other fight lasted just 9 seconds and a single punch. He may have a weird name but you will remember his power, and Rozenstruik has a chance to showcase his talents here, while Arlovski will look to use his well-rounded skillset and veteran savvy to pull off the upset. Jairzinho is -180 so may be worth a bet, but with Arlovski looking so good in his last one, it might well be worth putting some money on Arlovski at +140 and hoping the vet can steal just one more win.


So there you have it folks - tune in Saturday, November 2nd for the biggest UFC of the year and the crowning of the Baddest MotherFucker in the game!

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