NEW YORK — Jorge Masvidal can call himself the “Baddest Mother[expletive].”
It’s just not how he wanted to do it.
The Miami native defeated Nate Diaz when the thrilling, bloody, back-and-forth battle was stopped after the third round by a ringside doctor due to a deep cut above Diaz’s right eye.
Masvidal officially won by technical knockout to take the main event of UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden and secure the Diaz-inspired BMF title.
The Madison Square Garden crowd booed at the doctor’s decision and Masvidal agreed, offering an immediate rematch to Diaz.
“I told Nate right now … ‘Let’s run it right back,’” Masvidal said. “We’re going to run it back, New York. So don’t worry about it. It’s going to happen again.”
Diaz was game for that.
“I’m coming back for you mother[expletive],” Diaz said.
Masvidal (34-13), who grew up fighting on the streets of Miami, was winning the fight, having used his size and strength to overwhelm the lanky but tough as ever Diaz. An early assault left Diaz with gushing cuts both above his right eye and on his right cheek.
That kind of punishment isn’t new for Diaz (20-12) though. He said his goal was to push the fight to the later rounds and use his superior cardio to finish Masvidal.
“I didn’t think they were going to stop it,” Diaz said. “I was just about to start it.”
Whether that was going to happen or not remains unknown. The doctor continued to look at the cut and finally called it just before the start of the fourth round. That’s the benefit of the early lead, Masvidal punished Diaz and even though he apologized for how the fight stopped, there was no question he was the victor in the biggest fight of his lengthy career.
The fight was contested in the welterweight (170 pounds) division but wasn’t for the UFC welterweight title — Diaz has said those belts are meaningless to him.
Instead, at Diaz’s request, the UFC created the BMF belt to add pop to this matchup of two of the sport’s most exciting fighters. Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson slipped the belt on Masvidal after the win.
The brawl between two of the UFC’s most exciting fighters was a wild capper to a historic night in mixed martial arts.
President Donald Trump sat Octagon for the card, becoming the first sitting (or former) president to attend a mixed martial arts event. Presidents have a long history of watching baseball, basketball, football, NASCAR and other sporting events in person.
The milestone was a reminder of the mainstream acceptance of the UFC. Trump and UFC president Dana White have been friends since 2001, when Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City hosted UFC 30 and 31. White spoke on Trump’s behalf at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Trump was greeted with a mix of cheers and jeers when he, flanked by three Republican representatives and his two older sons, Eric and Donald Jr., took their seats. Trump waved to those waving and supporting him while other parts of the crowd booed him.
While not the warmest of welcomes, it was far better for Trump than Sunday’s visit to Game 5 of the World Series, where he was met with “Lock Him Up” chants at Washington’s National Park.
Mostly the crowd and fighters ignored Trump throughout the high-energy event. Favorite fighters and celebrities who appeared on the MSG jumbotrons received nearly as big of reactions.
With or without Trump, UFC 244 promised to be one of the most exciting events of the year, a stacked card despite not having a traditional championship belt.
Lightweight Kevin Lee delivered a devastating, first-round knockout of Gregor Gillespie via a vicious kick to the head with his left leg in the main card’s opening fight.
“I needed to make [a statement] tonight,” Lee said after. “I wanted to put on a show.”
Derrick “The Beast” Lewis won a split decision over Blagoy Ivanov in a big-hitting heavyweight fight. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson dominated Vicente Luque in an impressive unanimous decision, picking Luque apart with both his hands and feet.
“I kicked him in the head as hard as I could and he just kept coming,” Thompson said.
In the co-main, England’s Darren Till stepped into the middleweight division to win a split decision over Kelvin Gastelum.
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