NEW YORK — Jorge Masvidal is the first man to ever wear the BMF title.
But the outcome of his fight against Nate Diaz did not take place the way he wanted.
UFC 244 ended in abject disappointment, as the Masvidal-Diaz fight will forever be remembered by a doctor stoppage. Following the third round, Diaz (20-12) had cuts above and beneath his right eye that led to the stoppage, and the fight was doomed as soon as the cut opened above his eye.
Masvidal (35-13) controlled the first two rounds of the fight, though Diaz pieced together his most complete round in the third. It appeared unlikely that he would have found a way to defeat Masvidal, but the disappointing part for both fighters, especially Masvidal, is that that answer will remain a mystery.
This fight needed to end in a knockout or submission for Masvidal to take the leap he so desperately wants. And he was on his way to accomplishing just that before the ringside doctor put an end to the fight.
Masvidal should next compete for the Welterweight title, while Diaz can now finally finish the third part of his trilogy against Conor McGregor.
The weak finish of the main event casts a cloud over an otherwise outstanding card. The prelims were full of action, and the main card started off hot with Kevin Lee knocking out previously undefeated Gregor Gillespie.
Derrick Lewis won via split decision against Blagoy Ivanov. There were moments when Lewis looked unstoppable, but even so, he was unable to put away Ivanov. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson suffered the same problem against Vicente Luque; despite wailing on his welterweight opponent, Thompson was forced to accept the unanimous decision from the judges. The weakest fight of the night was Darren Till’s split decision win against Kelvin Gastelum. The two avoided contact for the majority of the fight, but Till did just enough to emerge victorious in his first middleweight fight.
But all eyes were on the main event. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson added to the excitement by walking to the Octagon with his WWE theme playing and carrying the BMF title over his shoulder. And the fight lived up to expectations for the first three rounds, with Masvidal punishing Diaz—and the savvy Diaz finding ways to survive.
Masvidal was deprived the finish he dreamed of achieving, especially in a fight against an elite caliber fighter in Diaz. But he did control the majority of the fight, and now sets his sights away from the BMF title and toward a new piece of gold that has eluded him—the Welterweight championship.
Jorge Masvidal-Nate Diaz — 12:57 a.m.
Final: The fight will not see the fourth round.
The doctor stopped the fight just before the fourth round due to a cut above Diaz’s eye.
The stoppage deprives fight fans of the reason they paid for UFC 244: the final two rounds of the main event, which is normally when Diaz shines.
Masvidal certainly did enough to win the fight, but the finish is marred by the stoppage.
Round 3: Diaz finally forced Masvidal to fight through pressure in the third round, connecting with his right and left shots to Masvidal’s face and opening up a cut under his right eye.
Diaz has a way of getting tougher despite getting hit. The two traded fists on the mat as the round ended, and we now enter a precarious part of the fight entering the fourth round.
Both men are now vulnerable, but the question is who can capitalize first.
Round 2: Masvidal, once again, put Diaz on his back in the opening two minutes of round two. But Diaz also worked in more offense, and Masvidal wasn’t smiling off Diaz’s punches in this round.
Masvidal’s ability to put together successful combinations has been the difference. He is taking advantage of Diaz’s seemingly lack of mobility, and he brought him to the mat again with a minute remaining in the round.
Diaz found new life amidst a scramble with an ankle lock, but round two ends similarly to round one—with Masvidal owning both rounds.
Round 1: The fight opened with some gamesmanship between Diaz and Masvidal, right before Masvidal popped Diaz with a left forearm and then unleashed a furious set of rights and lefts.
90 seconds into the fight and Diaz’s face was covered in blood. Diaz had to operate off his back, with Masvidal refusing to let him get back to his feet for a good minute. But Diaz doesn’t get beat easily. He landed a couple significant strikes on Masvidal four minutes into the round, though the shots didn’t seem to phase Masvidal.
The opening round belonged to Masvidal, and both fighters wet the crowd’s appetite for more.
Pre-Fight: Time to decide the UFC’s baddest man.
Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz meet in the UFC 244 main event, with the non-sanctioned “BMF” title on the line. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson came to the cage carrying the belt, entering to his WWE theme music.
It will be interesting to see how this fight starts. Masvidal (34-13) will likely look for an early knockout, but Diaz (20-11) is an incredibly smart fighter and well-prepared on everything Masvidal throws.
If Diaz gets this fight onto the mat, it will be a long night for Masvidal.
Darren Till-Kelvin Gastelum — 12:12 a.m.
Decision: Till earned the win in his first fight at 185 pounds by split decision.
The fight was extremely underwhelming, but the part of this encounter that will be remembered most vividly is that Till kicked off his middleweight career with a victory.
Round 3: Round three saw Till take control of the fight. This will by no means appear on his greatest hits reel, but he laid in just a little more offense than Gastelum.
Gastelum showed life in the final 30 seconds, but unlikely enough to sway the judges.
Rounds 1-2: Kelvin Gastelum and Darren Till had the crowd in New York City fired up, entering the fight that was supposed to show the brilliance of UFC’s middleweight division.
Gastelum (15-4-1) won three of his past four fights, while Till (17-2-1) entered with two losses in a row.
The opening round did little to provide any separation between the two fighters. That was a bit of a letdown after a tremendous card, but both fighters entered the second round far more aggressive.
Neither Till nor Gastelum have been able to consistently land any significant strikes. The fight was broken up briefly as Gastelum landed a finger in Till’s eye; as soon as the fight resumed, so did the stalemate.
Two rounds in, as the boos from the MSG crowd hit the Octagon, we should see a fight that will be determined in the third and final round.
Stephen Thompson-Vicente Luque — 11:37 p.m.
Decision: Thompson won by unanimous decision.
“Wonderboy” needed that victory after dropping his past two fights. Even at 36, he remains one of the toughest welterweights in the world.
Round 3: Thompson absolutely pummeled Luque in the opening minute of the final round, yet somehow didn't put him away.
Luque’s reaction time had been a step slower since the middle of the second round, and he was clearly having a hard time protecting the left side of his face.
Luque was in desperate need of a knockout punch. He was looking to connect his left fist to Thompson’s chin, but couldn't mount any sort of consistent offense.
Incredibly, Luque lasted all three rounds despite the unrelenting punishment from Thompson. This is going to the judges; barring some sort of ridiculous decision, this one should be unanimous for Thompson.
Round 2: Round two started with each man trading shots. On two separate occasions by the middle of the round, it appeared Thompson was on the cusp of knocking out Luque. Luque was protecting the bloody gash beneath his left eye, yet he kept throwing—and eating—punches.
Luque was fortunate to make it through the round. The second round belongs entirely to Thompson.
Round 1: This is a fight of streaks: Stephen Thompson (14-4-1) looks to break his two-fight losing streak, while Vicente Luque (17-6-1) attempts to win his seventh in a row.
Luque took control early in the opening round, but Thompson landed some quality shots in the final 90 seconds. Luque is a dangerous fighter, but many of the top-tier welterweights would prefer to avoid him because he doesn’t have a marquee name. Credit to Thompson for taking the fight, and the first five minutes highlighted that this is going to be a battle.
Derrick Lewis-Blagoy Ivanov — 11:03 p.m.
Round 3: Lee and Ivanov exchanged blows in the third and final round. Much to my surprise, this went the distance and the final decision will be made by the judges.
And, in a split decision, Lewis wins the fight. This is a big victory for the heavyweight. His conditioning has always been a concern, but he lasted all three rounds and never relented in his attack on Ivanov.
Ivanov ate a considerable amount of damage to his face, and it showed by round two. Lewis re-enters the discussion for a title fight with the win.
Round 2: Lewis opened round two by unleashing a flurry of fists on Ivanov, but he withstood the punishment. Ivanov then used Lewis’ momentum to get his back on the mat, but Lewis returned to his feet and did more damage to Ivanov’s face.
Ivanov took a fury of blows, particularly to his face. He needs a decision in order to win this fight as it enters the third and final round.
Round 1: The lone heavyweight battle on the main card is Derrick Lewis against Blagoy Ivanov.
It’s a fight with stakes for the top tier of the heavyweight division. The majority of Ivanov’s success has come outside of the UFC. Although Blagoy (18-2-1) sports an impressive record, including two straight in the UFC, he is primarily known for his work in Bellator and WSOF. Lewis (21-7-1) has dropped his past two fights, but enters this fight in tremendous shape and reasserts himself in the division with a win.
This fight isn’t destined to last long. Ivanov quickly put Lewis on his back, but Lewis quickly got back to his feet and immediately started swinging. Neither fighter was able to capitalize for the remainder of the opening round, but round one should belong, even if it was a slight advantage, to Lewis.
Kevin Lee-Gregor Gillespie — 10:30 p.m.
Gregor Gillespie is undefeated no more.
Just under three minutes into the opening round, Kevin Lee (18-5) made a statement with a knockout win.
Gillespie (13-1) is one of the most elite wrestlers in the lightweight division, but Lee entered the fight with a low stance. Lee didn’t even wait three minutes to find an opening, knocking Gillespie out with a vicious left leg kick.
Lee had a cut underneath his left eye, but it clearly didn’t affect his footwork. He had lost three of his past four fights entering UFC 244, but the victory against Gillespie is a monumental win and provides much needed momentum.