If you’re a fight fan, this card and more specifically the main event is everything we dream of. Two of the Baddest fighters to ever grace mixed martial arts in Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal meet in what has all the feels of an absolute war. Hell, these two are so entertaining that they are fighting for a belt they made up for this special fight called the BMF belt. That’s Baddest Mother Fucker if you didn’t know. I don’t think there is anything else to say other than not to miss this one…
UFC 244 Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz – This fight is everything. It may be my favorite fight ever made. Two men who truly exemplify the word fighter compete in a five round fight that has the makings of an instant classic. Masvidal, has won two fights in a row and is coming off a devastating flying knee knockout in five seconds over Ben Askren. The man has 47 professional fights and is a product of backyard fights in Miami during his youth. He’s an all around fighter, whom has underrated grappling abilities. If I were to point out flaws, they’d be his knack of coasting in fights and he seemingly gets dropped in all his fights. Make no mistake though, durability and the ability to absorb punishment is not an issue at all for Masvidal.
As for Diaz, after nearly three years away from the sport, the Stockton native made a triumphant return with an emphatic decision victory over Anthony Pettis. Even after three years, Diaz looked as good as ever and clearly hasn’t lost a step in this ever evolving sport. Diaz is an excellent boxer, whom is the epitome of a volume striker. Aided by his insane cardio, Diaz puts on a pace that often breaks fighters who oblige to stand with him. While grappling isn’t an issue for Diaz, nor fighting off his back, he often succumbs to takedowns by top notch wrestlers. Other than that, the only other flaws is probably is lack of wrestling and ability to check leg kicks. However, his durability is perhaps the best in the UFC and he’s usually unfazed by leg kicks.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Masvidal. I believe his diverse offense, legit power and ability to match Diaz with pace and cardio are the determining factors here. I mean, there’s a chance this is an all out striking match, but Masvidal has a solid wrestling game and underrated grappling to fall back on if he gets seriously hurt at any point. Diaz on the other hand doesn’t have the wrestling to fall back on. In fight that is an absolute war and I believe we see both men get dropped, it’s Masvidal whom’s diverse offense will lead him to a hard fought decision victory and the Baddest Motherfucker.
185 lbs.: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Darren Till – Man, Till went from a future Champion, to a guys who’s chin is not trusted to take punishment in the upper echelon of a division. Given Gastelum throws often, is durable and has some real pop in hands, I’d say this is one of those fights that Till’s chin can’t handle. I mean, Gastelum is coming off one of the greatest Middleweight title fights in history. One though in which he took a lot of punishment and was nearly finished in the final minute of the fight. Nevertheless and size disadvantage aside, Gastelum is the pick here until Till shows he’s got the durable to fight at this level. So with that, I have Gastelum winning via TKO.
170 lbs.: Vicente Luque vs. Stephen Thompson – Talk about different trajectories. Luque has won six fights in a row, and ten of his last eleven. He’s finished nine of those fights and is on the precipice of cracking the top ten in a stacked Welterweight division. Thompson is on a two fight skid and recently suffered his first knockout defeat. It’s been nearly two years since Thompson won a fight, that fight being over co-headliner Jorge Masvidal.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Thompson. I feel like the knockout defeat was just a perfect punch and not Thompson’s age factoring into an inability to take punishment. Luque is going to bring it too. Both men have excellent cardio, but it’s Thompson’s ability to stay on the outside and outpoint opponents is why I have him. Luque relies on getting inside and brawling opponents. Not to say he’s not calculated either, but Thompson will not engage inside the pocket. I believe in an all striking battle, Thompson lands the more cleaner shots en route to a decision victory.
265 lbs.: Blagoy Ivanov vs. Derrick Lewis – Ivanov has been a really great addition the Heavyweight division. He’s got some decent pop, has cardio, is tough as nails and has some wrestling chops to rely on if things get ugly. Things are going to ugly though here, as Lewis is a tough out. Gifted with one punch knockout power, the Black Beast has won by knockout in ten of his twelve UFC victories. Now, if Ivanov is unfazed by Lewis’s power, then this could potentially be a cakewalk for him. However, I’m siding with Lewis. His ability to knock out opponents at any moment is too good to pass up here against a smaller Heavyweight in Ivanov no less.
155 lbs.: Kevin Lee vs. Gregor Gillespie – Lee is the all around better fighter and it’s a real shame he’s on this skid. His talent hasn’t matched his results of late and I believe cardio is a real culprit. Now Gillespie is on some run and his suffocating wrestling, insane pace and cardio are all to credit for it. However, his size is eventually going to run him into problems. And while I believe he’s got a great shot to win here, Lee is a big Lightweight. As long as Lee can use his size advantage to keep this fight upright or against the cage, then he’s going to edge it out. However, if Gillespie can take Lee down, then I can see Gillespie finishing Lee in the 3rd round. My final prediction though, is that Lee uses his TDD, strength and jab en route to a hard fought decision victory.
UFC 244 Prelims Card On ESPN2 (8 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Corey Anderson vs. Johnny Walker – Fun fight. Anderson is the epitome of a workhorse. He can outpoint you on the feet or accumulate takedowns en route to a decision victory. Cardio and pace have also aided Anderson. What hasn’t helped, is an ability to eat power strikes. Given Walker is a wild man with an emphasis on power strikes, I think eventually Anderson is going to eat something that puts him out. So with that, I got Walker via decision.
145 lbs.: Makwan Amirkhani vs. Shane Burgos – I like Amirkhani, but he’s yet to address his cardio flaw. Sometimes you can get away with that, but not against a striker in Burgos whom happens to have solid takedown defense and cardio. I foresee an action packed fight, in which mainly stays standing due to Burgos’s TDD. By the third round, a gassed Amirkhani will succumb to a submission finish by Burgos.
185 lbs.: Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Brad Tavares – I’m at a stalemate here. On one hand, I see a young fighter in Shahbazyan who has looked pretty dominant in last few fights. On the other hand, a veteran in Tavares, whom was on a four fight win streak prior to a five round defeat to current Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. This will be a good test to see where Shahbazyan is at, but for now, I’ve got the veteran Tavares winning via decision.
265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik – Everyone is seemingly predicting Arlovski getting washed here, but not me. While his chin is always a concern, Arlovski has fought smarter and avoided brawls for the part. A credit to the sudden switch of style, with an actual formidable wrestling game has minimized getting cracked. And while Rozenstruik can absolutely crack, he’s yet to go into deep waters. I think we get a good idea where his cardio is at in this fight, as Arlovski grinds out a decision victory.
UFC 244 Prelims Card On ESPN2/ESPN+ (6:30 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jennifer Maia – Honestly, Both these girls have been in so many close fights, it’s getting hard to predict. Based on output and her ability to sneak fights out at a high rate, I’ve got Chookagian by decision.
170 lbs.: Lyman Good vs. Chance Rencountre – Interesting fight, but I’ve got Good. Rencountre excels when his opponents can’t match his strength and wrestling. However Good has developed solid takedown defense and some decent wrestling himself. On the feet, Good is easily the better striker and should have no issues taking this fight via decision.
145 lbs.: Julio Arce vs. Hakeem Dawodu – What a tough fight to predict, but a really fun fight to open the night. Two high volume strikers, with Dawodu excelling more-so with kicks and Arce a more defensively consist striker. As far as a prediction, I’ll side with the young gun Dawodu to sneak this one out via decision.