UFC 244: Masvidal vs. Diaz Full Preview

Ever since mixed martial arts have been legalized in New York State, UFC has made an effort to do an annual large show at Madison Square Garden. The first time, it was Conor McGregor becoming a “Champ-Champ,” dethroning lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. The next year it was MMA legend Georges St-Pierre returning to win a belt off of Michael Bisping. Last year, Daniel Cormier built on his legacy, making his first heavyweight championship defense against Derrick Lewis. This year is a little different.

Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz will headline the show, although a belt with lineage won’t be on the line. Instead, a new belt is being introduced, and will be awarded to the “BMF (Baddest M*****F*****).” Along with the main event is also a stacked card, even down to the preliminary portion. Celebrating their 500th show, live from Madison Square Garden on Saturday, here’s a look at UFC 244.

Bout 1: Julio Arce (16-3) vs. Hakeem Dawodu (10-1-1) (Featherweight)

The evening will begin on UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 PM EDT with a battle of two featherweight prospects. Julio Arce and Hakeem Dawodu are both currently with a 3-1 record in the UFC. Dawodu most recently finished Yoshinori Horie with a head kick at UFC 240. Arce also finished his last fight with a head kick, defeating Julian Erosa in the third round. This will be Arce’s second appearance at Madison Square Garden.

Bout 2: Lyman Good (20-5) vs. Chance Rencountre (14-3) (Welterweight)

The welterweight division has a real pick-em bout between Lyman Good and Chance Rencountre on the prelims. While being the more experienced fighter, Good is returning from a loss to Demian Maia. Rencountre hasn’t faced anyone big like Maia yet, but is currently on a two-fight winning streak.

Bout 3: Katlyn Chookagian (12-2) vs. Jennifer Maia (17-5-1) (Catchweight 127 lbs)

While only being in the UFC for three years, Katlyn Chookagian has racked up an impressive promotional record of 5-2. She attempts to better that against Jennifer Maia, who is currently riding a victory against Roxanne Modafferi. Maia missed weight on Friday by one pound, causing the fight to be moved from flyweight to a catchweight bout.

Bout 4: Andrei Arlovski (28-18) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (8-0) (Heavyweight)

At 8 PM EDT, the broadcast will move to TSN 5 for four final preliminary bouts. The first of the four is between Andrei Arlovski and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Arlovski recently snapped a winless streak of four bouts by defeating Ben Rothwell. While experience weighs heavily on Arlovski’s side, he will have to try to snap the undefeated record of Rozenstruik. The Suriname fighter has won twice via stoppage since joining the UFC. More notably, Rozenstruik finished Allen Crowder in nine seconds in June.

Bout 5: Brad Tavares (17-5) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (10-0) (Middleweight)

Young and undefeated fighter Edmen Shahbazyan will see his biggest UFC challenge yet when he faces Brad Tavares on Saturday. Tavares is a UFC veteran who got into the promotion in 2010 by winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 11. To compare, Tavares has been in the UFC for six years more than Shahbazyan has been doing MMA. Tavares hasn’t fought in over a year, with his last fight being a decision loss against Israel Adesanya in July of 2018 (for reference, Adesanya has fought four times since then). Shahbazyan most recently finished Jack Marshman in just over a minute at UFC 239.

Bout 6: Shane Burgos (12-1) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (15-3) (Featherweight)

Two experienced UFC fighters in Shane Burgos and Makwan Amirkhani will face off on the prelims. Burgos is a New York fighter who competed on the MSG show last year as well. He most recently bested Cub Swanson in a split decision bout in May. Amirkhani has fought only half as many times as Burgos in the past three years, but is still a young and successful fighter. He defeated Chris Fishgold with an anaconda choke in June, sounding his return after a one year absence.

Bout 7: Corey Anderson (12-4) vs. Johnny Walker (17-3) (Light Heavyweight)

The preliminary card will finish off with Corey Anderson and Johnny Walker competing. Walker has become a famous name within the promotion due to his flashy KO victories. His most recent appearance, while being a cakewalk of a fight, sidelined him for some time. This was because his post-fight celebration which included falling on the canvas dislocated his shoulder. Anderson is a step up in competition for Walker. Anderson is on a three-fight winning streak, most recently beating Ilir Latifi. The majority of Anderson’s career has happened in the UFC, unlike Walker’s. Will Walker put on another memorable performance, or will Anderson out-wit the Brazilian’s dangerous flashes of offense?

Bout 8: Kevin Lee (17-5) vs. Gregor Gillespie (13-0) (Lightweight)

The main portion of the show will kick off at 10 PM EDT on pay-per-view. Starting the main card will be lightweight gatekeeper Kevin Lee facing undefeated Gregor Gillespie. Despite having a six-fight winning streak in the UFC and having never lost, Gillespie flies under the radar of many. It’s possible that a win over a name of Lee could finally give him attention. Lee is conditioned to fighting five round fights, having last done a three round fight in 2017. Lee is 2-3 in his last five, all up against fighters of a similar calibre.

Bout 9: Derrick Lewis (21-7) vs. Blagoy Ivanov (18-2) (Heavyweight)

While Derrick Lewis fights on the main card this year against Blagoy Ivanov, it’s a clear step down from main eventing, which he did in 2018. Lewis is on a two-fight losing streak, recently dropping to Junior dos Santos on the main event of a fight night card. Ivanov is considered an up-and-coming fighter within the division. He bounced back from his UFC debut loss by recently defeating Ben Rothwell and Tai Tuivasa.

Bout 10: Stephen Thompson (14-4-1) vs. Vicente Luque (17-6-1) (Welterweight)

Vincente Luque has been on the rise lately, defeating high level welterweights. Most recently, Luque got a split decision win over Mike Perry. He will look to add Stephen Thompson to his list of names on Saturday when they match up on the main card. Thompson has been absent since his knockout loss to Anthony Pettis. He also lost to Darren Till in the fight before then. He will aim to return to his winning ways against a seemingly unstoppable Luque.

Bout 11: Kelvin Gastelum (16-4) vs. Darren Till (17-2-1) (Middleweight)

Darren Till was an undefeated fighter a year ago that was near championship material. He was pushed into a fight against Tyron Woodley for the welterweight belt in 2018. The fight was one-sided, with Woodley ending Till’s championship hopes in under two rounds. Till then went against Jorge Masvidal in March, getting finished via punches in less time than his championship outing lasted. In hopes of finding success, Till moves down to middleweight for his fight against Kelvin Gastelum. The bout is no step down in competition, as Gastelum was the runner-up to face Robert Whittaker and unify the middleweight belts. He got bested by Israel Adesanya in April, losing via scorecards. Before then, Gastelum had wins over Michael Bisping and Jacare Souza.

Bout 12: Jorge Masvidal (34-13) vs. Nate Diaz (20-11) (Welterweight)

The main event of the show sees Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz face off in a five round competition. The winner receives the BMF Championship, a one-use belt to determine the “Baddest M*****F*****.”

Masvidal’s rise in popularity was quite out of left field. The welterweight has been in the game for longer than most people at this point, and has stayed at a mid-level or gatekeeper status for a long time. After a brutal victory over Darren Till in early 2019, Masvidal went viral with a flying knee knockout to Ben Askren. The knockout was brutal and online basically overshadowed the two championship bouts that happened that night as well.

The story of Nate Diaz lately is similar to his opponent. Diaz has been popular before, but his mid-2019 run could be described as a resurrection. After losing to Conor McGregor in 2016, Diaz disappeared until late 2018. He was scheduled to be on the 2018 MSG show, facing Dustin Poirier. That fell through after Poirier got injured, putting Diaz back on the bench. Diaz finally made his long-awaited return in the summer of 2019, defeating Anthony Pettis at UFC 241.

While it could be described as unexpected that these two fighters would headline one of the biggest cards of the year, their collision makes sense. Two fighters who are in the same division, both have charisma, both had a boom at a similar time, and are both considered real badasses.

UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos Full Report

UFC’s annual “International Fight Week” was headlined by two title fights this year. As usual, live from Las Vegas, the 12 fight card saw Champions Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes face their respective challengers, Thiago Santos and Holly Holm. The card also had big names like Jorge Masvidal, Ben Askren, Luke Rockhold and more. With knockouts, records broken and more, let’s look at UFC 239.

Bout 1: Pannie Kianzad (11-4) vs. Julia Avila (6-1) (Bantamweight)

The first fight of the evening was the debut of Julia Avila and the return to the UFC for Pannie Kianzad. Very early in the bout Kianzad had Avila pinned up against the cage. Avila turned it around, putting Kianzad up against the cage. She landed elbows and knees. They broke free for more stand-up, but Kianzad clinched up against the cage once again. Leaving clinch she landed a good two punch combo. Avila landed more strikes which backed Kianzad up against the cage. Early in the second round it was Avila who engaged in a clinch. Avila landed a takedown later on but got up shortly after. Kianzad landed a good flurry of strikes in the fourth minute which cut Avila. Avila had a flash of greatness seconds after, putting together punches which had Kianzad panicking. Avila landed a hard front kick in the final seconds of the round. Avila defended a takedown and took control on the ground as the round closed out. Kianzad was dropped with strikes a minute or so into the final round. Avila went into top position on the ground. She took her back after Kianzad rolled around. Avila tried for a rear naked choke but Kianzad got out of it. Avila stayed on control on the ground until the round concluded. Julia Avila was given the victory via the judges (30-27, 30-26 & 30-26).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Kianzad99927
Avila10101030

Bout 2: Chance Rencountre (13-3) vs. Ismail Naurdiev (18-2) (Welterweight)

The next bout was a welterweight battle between Chance Rencountre and Ismail Naurdiev. Early on both fighters were landing good shots. Rencountre had Naurdiev on the ground up against the cage for a while. The round ended in this position. At the start of the second round Rencountre got control on the ground again. He was on Naurdiev’s back this time. He started to throw punches. Naurdiev flipped over, but Rencountre still had half guard. They stayed in this position until the round concluded. Rencountre shot for another takedown twice in the third round but Naurdiev defended it. Both fighters had strong punches despite being visibly fatigued. Halfway through the round, Rencountre got on Naurdiev’s back once again. He flattened out Naurdiev and started to land punches. Naurdiev landed a takedown in the final seconds. Chance Rencountre was victorious, winning via scorecards (29-27, 29-28 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Rencountre101010
Naurdiev989

Bout 3: Jack Marshman (23-8) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (9-0) (Middleweight)

In the final early prelim bout, Jack Marshman faced a young and undefeated Edmen Shahbazyan. Joe Rogan pointed out that Shahbazyan was born the year he started to call UFC fights. In the first minute of the bout Shahbazyan landed a takedown. From above he landed hard punches. He put in a rear naked choke which made Marshman tap out in no time. Edmen Shahbazyan extended his undefeated record into double digits in a short bout.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Marshman



Shahbazyan



Bout 4: Alejandro Perez (21-7-1) (#13) vs. Yadong Song (14-4) (Bantamweight)

Starting off the preliminary card on ESPN was Alejandro Perez versus Yadong Song. The fight had close striking until Song dropped Perez cold with a right hook to end the fight.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Perez



Song



Bout 5: Claudia Gadelha (16-4) (#5) vs. Randa Markos (9-6-1) (#14) (Strawweight)

In the first matchup that had two ranked fighters, Claudia Gadelha faced Randa Markos. Throughout the first round both fighters kept a hunched over stance and were somewhat inactive. The second round was much like the first except Gadelha shot for a takedown in the final seconds which wasn’t successful. The fight went the distance to the displeasure of the audience. The judges gave the fight to Claudia Gadelha (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27). 

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Gadelha10101030
Markos99927

Bout 6: Marlon Vera (15-5-1) vs. Nohelin Hernandez (10-2) (Bantamweight)

In another bantamweight bout, Marlon Vera fought Nohelin Hernandez. Vera took Hernandez’s back early in the first round. He tried for a rear naked choke for many minutes before transitioning into an armbar. Hernandez landed punches which got him out of the armbar predicament. Hernandez put in a d’arce choke as the round concluded. In the second round Hernandez got top position on the ground. He landed some punches before leaving the position, letting Vera stand up as well. Vera connected with a knee in stand-up which put Hernandez on the ground. Vera put in a rear naked choke which made Hernandez tap out.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Vera9


Hernandez10


Bout 7: Arnold Allen (14-1) vs. Gilbert Melendez (22-7) (Featherweight)

After a near two year break, Gilbert Melendez returned in this next fight to face Arnold Allen. This match concluded the preliminary card. The first round had Allen out-striking Melendez. The second round felt like more of the same. Allen landed a takedown in the first minute of the third round. They went back to their feet shortly after. All three judges gave the fight to Arnold Allen (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Allen10101030
Melendez99927

Bout 8: Michael Chiesa (14-4) vs. Diego Sanchez (29-11) (Welterweight)

Moving to the main card, Michael Chiesa fought Diego Sanchez in a welterweight bout. A lot of the talk this weekend is from Diego Sanchez having one cornerman for this fight who doesn’t have much experience in MMA. Besides the absurdity, there is a possible health risk as a corner is supposed to look out for the health of their fighter. He sprinted out with a towel over his head during the walkout. In the first ten seconds of the fight Sanchez shot for a takedown. Chiesa was controlling on the ground, trying for a few submission holds. They stood back up where Chiesa landed some good knees. After being in a clinch for a while Chiesa threw Sanchez back to the ground. Chiesa took his back and put in a rear naked choke, but Sanchez escaped. He landed some elbows to the head and tried for it again but Sanchez escaped. They stood back up into clinch. Sanchez brought it back to the ground but Chiesa took the dominant position once again. The first round was a one-sided affair. Chiesa was the one to shoot for a takedown early in the second. He landed some punches to the head before they stood up once again. At one point Chiesa flattened out Sanchez and started to throw unanswered strikes. He put in a rear naked choke up Sanchez got out. Chiesa tried for a kimura until the second round concluded. The third round was another dominant one where Chiesa was always in control on the ground. The judges all had it in favour of Michael Chiesa (30-26, 30-26 & 30-26).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Chiesa10101030
Sanchez98825

Bout 9: Luke Rockhold (16-4) vs. Jan Blachowicz (23-8) (#6) (Light Heavyweight)

In-between fights news broke that Khabib Nurmagomedov and Nate Diaz got into an incident in the crowd at the event. Security separated them before things got out of control. The next bout was Luke Rockhold versus Jan Blachowicz. After landing many kicks, Rockhold shot for a takedown. He tried for a few minutes but never secured it. As the horn went at the end of the round, Blachowicz fired off a fury of strikes including a kick after the horn which dropped Rockhold. Rockhold stepped towards Blachowicz after the bell as if he was either angry or not sure if the round ended. In the second round Rockhold was hit with punches that made him fall like a tree. Referee Herb Dean stepped in shortly after to end the bout.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Rockhold9


Blachowicz10


Bout 10: Ben Askren (19-0) (#5)  vs. Jorge Masvidal (33-13) (#4) (Welterweight)

In the next bout, two high ranked welterweights in Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal faced off in a grudge match. In the first few seconds of the bout, Masvidal landed a flying knee which immediately knocked out Askren cold. Masvidal was in his face right after the fight ended. Ending at five seconds, it was the quickest fight in UFC history. Askren was guided out of the octagon before the decision was made. 

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Askren



Masvidal



Bout 11: Holly Holm (12-4) (#2) vs. Amanda Nunes (17-4) (UFC Bantamweight Championship)

In the co-main event slot of the evening, we had Holly Holm challenge Amanda Nunes for her UFC Bantamweight Championship. The first round was close until Nunes landed a kick to the head right her right leg which ended it.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Total
Holm





Nunes





Bout 12: Thiago Santos (21-6) (#2) vs. Jon Jones (24-1) (UFC Light Heavyweight Championship)

The main event of the evening was Thiago Santos challenging Jon Jones for his Light Heavyweight Championship. Jones had a huge reach advantage in this fight. Santos circled the outside while Jones stayed in the inside of the octagon. Jones caught a leg kick from Santos and tried a spinning back elbow when exiting the hold. Santos threw a few kicks to the leg in the opening minutes. After a combination of punches were thrown, Jones’ mouthpiece fell out. He put it back in and they continued. At the start of the second round the commentators claimed Santos hurt himself after throwing a kick. Santos fell and then was hit with a kick to the mid-section around halfway through the round. Santos landed some good combinations of kicks and punches as the round wound down. Santos kept exploding with punches in the third. Jones threw a flying knee but it either didn’t phase Santos or didn’t land. Santos slipped after throwing a leg kick, and was hit with an elbow when getting up. The elbow cut open Santos along the hairline. Jones landed a good head kick with 90 seconds in the third round. The crowd started to boo in the fourth round. Both fighters slowed their already slow pace, although Santos still exploded with punches a couple of times. Jones was often the one coming forward. Near the end of the round Santos’ injury became more apparent as he seemed to get the worst out of a kick that he threw. Santos continued with combinations in the fifth round, but it never seemed to hurt Jones. Jones threw more low kicks in this round to take advantage of the injury. The fight went all five rounds. Jon Jones got the victory via split decision (48-47, 48-47 & 48-47).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Total
Santos101099947
Jones9910101048

UFC returns next week with a fight night from Sacramento, California. Germaine de Randamie and Aspen Ladd headline the 13 fight card. UFC veteran and Hall of Famer Urijah Faber returns in the co-main event, facing Ricky Simon. The next PPV is on July 27th, with Max Holloway defending his Featherweight Championship against Frankie Edgar.