We are just days before the BMF title fight which takes place this saturday, November 2, at the MSG in New York. The mere fact that the Jorge Masvidal vs Nate Diaz fight headlines one of the biggest events of the year is a victory for the fans!
Across the years, UFC fans have become used to getting fighters they don’t really like shoved down our throats. From the Sage Northcutts to the Paige VanZants and even the Ronda Rouseys to some extent, when the UFC decided someone was going to be a star, he was going to be a star! Even if he wasn’t a good fighter.
Even with Conor McGregor, he was well liked at first, but as soon as he became champion and immediately fought three times in a row outside of his division fans started to turn on him. But the UFC enabled him to not defend his title(s) and didn’t really strip him until they were sure he was not going to come back (i.e. after the Floyd Mayweather fight).
During that time and even after, there were elite level fighters that were constantly competing in the UFC with not much recognition from the promotion. One of these fighters is Jorge Masvidal. The man started fighting in Kimbo’s backyard fighting league in Miami before moving on to MMA and competing in every major promotion since 2003 from the UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator and even Bodog.
The symbol of the Rousey/McGregor era is basically the UFC trying to push every fighter that looks like he (or she) could be a star without fighting like it and leaving awesome fighters like Jorge Masvidal in the shadows. But the greatest thing the Rousey/McGregor gave us is probably Nate Diaz.
Along with his brother Nick, they were the ultimate MMA anti-heroes for a long time. Never bowing down to any rules and never giving a F about anything. Nate was in the shadows of his brother Nick for a long time. Even Dana White once infamously mentionned that Nate was not a “needle mover” like his brother. But when Nate Diaz choked out Conor McGregor on less than two weeks’ notice and delivered one of the sport’s most famous quote in his post fight interview, he became the second biggest star in MMA after the guy he had just defeated.
Even though he lost the rematch, his profile was only increased after competing in what was at the time the two highest selling fights in the history of the sport. Then, he left. Except for glimpses here and there, we didn’t hear much of Nate Diaz for the next three years. Everybody thought he just rode into the sunset with his new millions.
Most of the time, when a fighter leaves for three years, people just forget about him. When someone leaves for three years and comes back bigger than ever, that’s when you know you got somebody special on your hands. After the UFC 241, even Dana White had to acknowledge that Nate was, indeed, a “needle mover” as his fight with Anthony Pettis basically outshined the night’s main event, which was a Heavyweight title rematch between Cormier and Miocic, not to say the least.
But during Diaz’s leave, Masvidal finally moved up to the 170lbs division where he continued his 50-50 run. Everytime he won a big fight, like against Cowboy Cerrone, he lost the next one to guys like Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia. He never got outclassed by anyone, he never got finished either (in the UFC). But out of his 6 UFC losses, Masvidal lost 4 times by split decision. He was an incredible fighter but he lacked the killer instinct to do enough to win consistently.
In 2019, everything changed for Masvidal. After taking all of 2018 off, he came back in the main event of the UFC London card. He was widely expected to lose to local favorite Darren Till who was trying to rebound to his loss against Tyron Woodley in a title fight. That’s not quite was happened, Jorge Masvidal knocked him out brutally in the second round and proceeded to give Leon Edwards the infamous three piece and a soda in the middle of his backstage interview.
If that’s the moment that made us realize that Jorge Masvidal was a different man, the UFC 239 was the moment that pushed him over as one of the sport’s biggest names. At UFC 239, Jorge Masvidal immediately sprinted towards Ben Askren and knocked him out cold with a flying knee in a record 5 seconds. Askren had talked a whole lot of trash leading to that fight and Masvidal just ended him in the most devastating way possible. This moment is basically Masvidal’s “I’m not surprise MFers” moment.
Since real recognizes real, Diaz used his UFC 241 post fight interview to elevate Jorge Masvidal to his level of stardom. He said that Masvidal was the realest BMFer in the game and that he wanted to fight him for that reason. No trash talk, no Conor McGregor stuff, just two of the baddest guys in the sport going at it.
That’s what the real fans want to see. Two of the most beloved fighters of their generation who never had the UFC machine pushing them but still found a way to force them to give it to them. If everything worked out according to the UFC’s plan, Jorge Masvidal vs Nate Diaz would never have been the main event of the annual visit to the Madison Square Garden. But these two guys never stopped grinding and even when they were not actively fighting, they were plotting their next moves and they made it impossible for the UFC to ignore them.
They made it so impossible that now the UFC is even creating a belt especially for that fight. A fight that will be attended by huge celebrities like The Rock and the MFing POTUS Donnie “The Wall” Trumpet. They have created one of the biggest MMA events of the past years and the UFC played zero part in it. And that, is a victory for the fans, who have stucked behind Masvidal and Diaz for years and not get the chance to see them collect the fruit of their labour, and probably give us an epic fight in the process!