A week has passed since UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden in New York, and we’re still talking about it. The UFC definitely went a ‘different route’ for their 500th live event, with the main card for UFC 244 being a title fight between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal for the BMF belt (by now we all know what that stands for). The fans were always going to be the real winners when the BMF belt was created out of the imagination of Diaz, and Dana White decided to roll with it. But…the actual winner was Masvidal; he dominated the fight, putting on a striking master class for the fans and was crowned the ultimate BMF! Putting these fighters in a cage and telling them to fight was always going to live up to the hype, yet the darkest belt in the UFC caused controversy for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, it was the doctor that had the final say on determining the fate of the BMF belt, deciding that it was no longer safe for Diaz to continue for the start of the fourth round due to cuts he received from a head kick in the first round. Boos rang out through MGS as the fans expressed their disappointment that it didn’t go the full five rounds, or even more so that it didn’t end with a knockout or submission stoppage. The fans have already speculated at how the fight might have gone with the extra ten minutes, especially with both fighters’ durability. No one in MGS was more disappointed than Diaz, and he felt his cardio would have given him the advantage in the last two rounds, but Masvidal confirmed he’s never faded in the later stages of a fight and has one of the best gas tanks in the game too. Although the cuts weren’t the only damage Masvidal’s striking caused, at the end of the fight we could see that Diaz’s ribs on his left-hand side were visibly reddened and grazed, due to the body kicks he received throughout the fight.
As soon as the ref confirmed the doctor’s decision, Diaz and Masvidal approached each other, seemingly already agreeing to a re-run of the title fight, with neither happy to see the fight end that way. Both fighters agreed to the re-run in their press interviews too, and with their reputations and integrity, I’d put good money on seeing Diaz and Masvidal 2, but the key question is when? Although after Diaz’s retirement post on Instagram it seems like we’ve got our answer of what’s next for him. It would sadden me to know I’ll never see Diaz in the cage again outside of the MMA archives, but if it is the case, then what a great career and legacy to have! Thanks for the memories Nate, and good luck in your next chapter. I can only imagine Diaz’s frustration at the way his title hopes were snatched away from him. With a man as tough as Diaz you could have chopped his legs off, and he would’ve still said he’s good to go, and do the worm to make it to the center of the octagon to start that fourth round, so he’ll always feel cheated at a doctor’s stoppage. I hope after Diaz has had more time to recover from the hurt of the decision, he’ll change his mind on retirement. I’ll remain optimistic because Diaz is a man that thrives on combat, so will he be able to leave that behind and not look back?
So, if Diaz does (fingers crossed) make a return to the UFC…who would he fight? Regardless of social media posts Diaz obviously wants a re-run of the BMF title fight, but as always he’ll do it on his own terms or not at all. Before his next fight, he’ll need time to heal, and there’s even speculation that he’ll need plastic surgery to remove scar tissues which could mean an even longer lay-off. Masvidal won’t stay idle that long with the momentum his career has right now, and the result of his next fight could add even more forks to his career path. If Diaz’s return is after another long break, then with McGregor’s planned return imminent and their fiery rivalry, the next obvious fight for Diaz is their rubber match, to decide the BMF out of them two once and for all. It could even be a top contender fight, with the winner earning the title fight with Masvidal for BMF Champion.
In contrast, Masvidal is spoilt for choice for his next move, and he is completely in control of his own destiny. While I don’t doubt Masvidal will be good on his word and have a re-run of UFC 244 if Diaz is still willing, I can’t see this being his next fight. For his next fight Masvidal could choose to fight the winner of Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington at UFC 245, and if he won, become the newest version of champ champ, undisputed and BMF! Or if he wanted to preserve his BMF title, he may choose to squash the bad blood between him and Leon Edwards following their “conversation” after UFC London. Now he’s the BMF Champion there’ll be countless challengers to his BMF title arguing it’s not undisputed, but the most lucrative would be Conor McGregor (provided he wins his comeback fight). But why stick to MMA, Masvidal has so much star power now to draw in fans, we could even see him do a cross over fight like McGregor did…and Masvidal is definitely open to the idea with his call out of Canelo Alvarez. Talking of star power, following his success, will we now see Masvidal’s lucky charm, Dwayne Johnson, in the front row of all his future fights!? While Masvidal’s next move isn’t confirmed yet, one thing we do know is that whatever choice he makes he’ll be performing at a sold-out arena!
No one can deny that Diaz and Masvidal earned their BMF title fight, especially as it was only created thanks to Diaz, but with so many other BMFs in the packed welterweight division, is it fair that the next time we see the BMF title contended it’s most likely to be a re-run of UFC 244!? Two seemingly obvious challengers would be Tyron Woodley for his dominant reign as champion, and of course the current Undisputed Welterweight Champion, Kamaru Usman, for being the man to dethrone him at UFC 235. But the BMF title isn’t about win streaks or the rankings; it’s about whom you’ve fought, how you’ve fought, and most importantly how you conduct yourself! Winning fights isn’t all it takes to challenge for this belt.
Before the fight, Dana White repeatedly said the BMF title fight was a “one and done” event, but surely after UFC 244 sold-out MSG, this is no longer the case. The fans have loved the concept – including Hollywood superstars like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who wrapped the BMF belt around Masvidal – and when combined with the discontent caused by the doctor having the final word on the fight, it looks even more likely that the BMF belt won’t be one and done after all. Before the fight, I looked for clues about the future of the BMF belt, and did notice that when Joe Rogan announced Diaz and Masvidal at their weigh-ins he said they were “fighting for the BMF Championship in the welterweight division”. This could be a hint that if the UFC doesn’t shelf the BMF Championship concept we could see it rolled out for each of the different weight classes!? I certainly hope so, and judging by the boos that rung through MSG in New York at UFC 244, the fans don’t want to see the book closed on the BMF belt in the welterweight division at least!
At UK Fight Site we think that a great format for future BMF championship fights (assuming they happen) would be the Grand Prix style tournaments that were so popular in Pride. Each weight class could have their own tournament of chosen fighters worthy of the BMF name, running parallel to the standard championship title fights. This would mean potentially one fighter could hold both belts. It could even be used to decide number one contenders with the tournament winner then challenging for the undisputed championship title. In the same vein, it could also replace the need for interim championship belts, which I personally don’t like as it feels like a halfway house to being a champion, whereas if it was replaced with a BMF tournament then they would be a champion in their own right too!
There are countless paths White can take the BMF belt. The fans want it, it sold out MSG so surely White will want it, and with another belt to fight for in each weight class it would help the UFC pack out their events with title fights…win-win! I predict a bright future for the darkest belt in UFC history, and Masvidal, the Baddest Motherf*****!