Historic Madison Square Garden in New York City is the host to UFC 244 on Saturday night, the 500th live event in UFC history. Somewhat unusual that a primary UFC card isn’t headlined by a title fight but that’s the case here as it’s topped by a welterweight bout between contenders Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
While there’s not a literal UFC belt on the line, organization president Dana White has said that the winner of Masvidal-Diaz would earn the “Baddest Motherf****r” belt so there’s that! Diaz (20-11) claimed he was the BM in the game following a unanimous decision victory over Anthony Pettis at UFC 241 in August. Diaz is best-known for his two wars with Conor McGregor, with Diaz pulling a big upset in the first at UFC 196 but then losing the rematch at UFC 202 by majority decision. Diaz then didn’t fight in the UFC for three years before returning against Pettis.
McGregor hasn’t fought in the UFC since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October 2018 but says he will return in January and that after that bout wants to fight the winner of Masvidal-Diaz. McGregor has said he thought Diaz would win this bout. Diaz is the sixth-ranked welterweight with Kamaru Usman the champion. Diaz is a +140 underdog Saturday.
Last Friday, the USADA released a statement confirming that Diaz had failed an out-of-competition drug test but it ended up clearing him for UFC 244 regardless because the banned substance provided “no appreciable performance enhancing or therapeutic benefit.”
Masvidal (34-13) is a -170 favorite and ranked No. 3 in the welterweight division. “Gamebred” last fought in July at UFC 239 and knocked out Ben Askren with a flying knee just five seconds in – the fastest knockout in UFC history. Even though this isn’t a title fight, it is scheduled for five rounds because it’s the main event.
The bout immediately preceding Masvidal-Diaz is a middleweight fight between Kelvin Gastelum and Darren Till. Gastelum (16-4) is the -200 favorite and ranked fourth in the middleweight division – which is currently ruled by Israel Adesanya. Gastelum fought him in April and lost by unanimous decision. The Englishman Till (17-2-1) has lost back-to-back fights to Masvidal and Tyron Woodley. Till usually fights as a welterweight and is ranked ninth in that division. He’s a +160 underdog.