There is no world championship attached to the UFC 244 main event at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on November 2, but that doesn’t seem to bother the headliners, particularly Nate Diaz.
“We’re fighting for the baddest mother**ker in the game belt,” said the Stockton standout, who met the media along with his opponent in the UFC’s 500th event, Jorge Masvidal, and UFC President Dana White on Thursday evening at Pier 17 in downtown Manhattan.
So maybe there is a title – albeit an unofficial one – attached to this highly anticipated welterweight bout, which was kicked into gear on August 17 when Diaz politely called out Masvidal in the Octagon after defeating Anthony Pettis.
“The reason I was off was because everybody sucked and there was no one to fight,” Diaz told Joe Rogan after his UFC 241 win. “With this belt I want to defend it against…Jorge Masvidal…(he) had a good last fight. All respect to the man, but there ain’t no gangsters in this game anymore, nobody who’s done it right except me and him.”
Fans and media immediately jumped on board for the possibility of a showdown between two of the truest competitors in the sport. The UFC was soon on board, so much so that White proposed creating a BMF belt for the event. His team agreed, and there will be one making its way to NYC on fight week in November.
“This is one of those fights that built a life of its own,” said White, who revealed that over 10,000 tickets have already been sold for the event, this coming before Friday’s public on-sale. “This fight’s a big deal for the division and for who’s next in the title picture.”
The 34-year-old Masvidal, who has resurrected his career with 2019 knockouts of Darren Till and Ben Askren that have him showing his best form to date, wants in on that picture.
“I want to take everybody’s head that’s attached to a belt,” said Miami’s “Gamebred,” whose respect for Diaz is clear. “I’m coming to fight with everything I got. He’s a different caliber. But I got whatever it takes. Whatever it is, I’m here for it.”
As for Diaz, also 34, you can assume that a title shot wouldn’t be turned down, but he might just be content defending his own title.
“You can fight for phony belts or fight for the best mother**ker in the game belt,” smiled Diaz, who had a simple prediction for November 2.
“I’m coming to win.”