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Jorge Masvidal-Nate Diaz bout set to headline stacked UFC 244 card

Ajay Suresh | Wikimedia Commons Nate Diaz is no stranger to headlining fights, and will look for another major win when he faces Jorge Masvidal in New York.

UFC 244 was skating on thin ice during the second half of October, when professional MMA fighter Nate Diaz told the world he was dropping out of his Nov. 2 main fighting event against Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal at Madison Square Garden. 

 After being told that one of his pre-fight drug tests had some issues, Diaz, one of the cleanest fighters in the fighting game, was not making an idle threat when he said he wouldn’t fight on the card until the UFC and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency cleared his name.  

“You’re all on steroids, not me,” said Diaz when breaking the news of the questionable drug test. Now that the UFC, backed up by USADA and the state athletic commission, has come forward to exonerate Diaz of any wrongdoing and stated that he was a victim of a contaminated supplement fight, fans can rest easy.

Masvidal will be headlining his first pay-per-view event. The 34-year-old veteran is 1-1 in his previous main event fights, but has sprung into a late-career renaissance of sorts after coming off a record-breaking five-second knockout against the reputable wrestler Ben Askren. Prior to that, Masvidal knocked out UFC’s up-and-coming Darren Till. 

The flying knee heard around the world catapulted Masvidal into the limelight, earning him a callout from Diaz. Masvidal has finally put the savvy striking skills and wrestling that hardcore fans have been raving about into his recent run since moving up to the welterweight class.

Meanwhile, Diaz, who is also 34 years old, will be competing in his eighth welterweight fight. Diaz is 4-3 since coming to the division, but brings 15 fight-night bonuses with him. The jiu-jitsu black-belt holder is coming off an impressive decision against former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, but had a layoff of almost three years since his last callout of the infamous Conor McGregor. 

Despite being a jiu-jitsu expert, Diaz is known for his stand-up game and prides himself on his ability to take one punch in order to dish out two in exchange and that’s what makes this matchup more than worthy of headlining the Garden.

The title of the “baddest” in the game is on the line now after both fighters agreed respectfully that they’re the last “gangsters” left in UFC. Both athletes were not just bred from pure athleticism, but also hardened by the streets. That is exactly what makes them so exciting to watch. 

Masvidal came up in Kimbo Slice’s Miami street fighting circuit during the dawn of the YouTube era, while Diaz was headlining parks since his first year of high school in Stockton, California. An old-school, hardcore brawl is expected from the fighters and it seems almost impossible that they won’t deliver, considering their résumé. 

“Fans should expect violence,” said Masvidal in a recent interview. Both him and Diaz know that fans tune in for wars and both have promised to deliver with their different styles.

While both Diaz and Masvidal have the ability to go the maximum five rounds, it seems rather unlikely that they’ll have to. Diaz comes in as the betting underdog at +145 but that doesn’t mean he’s not a live dog. 

The MMA champion typically comes in as an underdog due to his slow-to-start style that relies so much on his endurance and ability to take punches in order to deliver his own. 

This is a dangerous game to play with Masvidal, as his last four victories have come via knockout. Though Diaz has only been knocked out once in his professional career, a fight is still a fight and therefore the possibility of a KO is always on the table.

Masvidal seems to have the slight edge over Diaz as during those initial rounds as Masvidal can dig a big enough hole before Diaz gets cruising so that it’ll be too little, too late for Diaz to pull out the victory in later rounds. 

What Diaz does have working for him, though, is his incredible cardio that’s been on display his entire UFC career. 

Despite the odds, it appears that this critical aspect of Diaz’s style is what will bring him the victory. Diaz will have to weather the storm in order to pull the victory off, but he has displayed this ability before, notably in his victory over McGregor. After suffering a barrage of punches and getting knocked down multiple times, Diaz was able outgas McGregor and pulled off a submission in the final round of the fight. 

While Masvidal has more respect for Diaz than McGregor ever displayed, it would be hard to say that his cardio is better than Diaz’s. Diaz has demonstrated on more than one occasion that he has a solid chin and has enough respect for Masvidal’s game that he most likely be able to deny him the opportunity to give him the knockout. 

The fighters can only brawl for so long before one of their gas tanks gives out. 

Diaz has the more credible ground game and in the final rounds of the fight, where the match will most likely end up, his cardio and black belt should give him enough of an edge to grind out the victory from Masvidal and put him right back into title contention after a long layoff.

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