The inaugural (and perhaps final) incarnation of the BMF title will be contested by two of the toughest veterans in the game as Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz throw down in the Garden.
This one-off novelty belt really shouldn’t work. In a time where the sport of mixed martial arts is dipping into a somewhat undesirable level of theatrics usually reserved for the world of pro-wrestling, those who hold MMA’s core values close to their hearts have been growing increasingly vocal in their criticisms of the ‘trash-talk era’.
And yet, even they – for the most part – have been forced to admit that this is a pretty damn good idea.
In Masvidal and Diaz, we have two guys who epitomise the gritty and dogged side to mixed martial arts that most fans wish would come to the fore to a greater level. Two warriors with little interest in the glitz and glamour that has become the focus of many a fighter’s dreams. Two fighters who promise to leave it all inside the octagon on Saturday night.
I’ve already given my thoughts on this fight and what it means to each man at this point in their respective careers so for the sake of keeping things straightforward, let’s skip over the background and dive into the prediction.
Although certainly differing in many areas, both Jorge and Nate can be characterised by their shared veteran savvy, excellent boxing, impenetrable chins, and, of course, their unquestionable desire to throw down.
Nate will have the length, reach, and likely the superior work on the ground between the two and if the fight reaches the championship rounds, I’d back him to be the fresher man if he doesn’t sustain too much damage.
For Masvidal, although he will give up a bit of reach to his adversary, I have him as the more dynamic and powerful striker of the two and in terms of his physique for 170lbs, I believe that he is the stronger and more explosive athlete.
Jorge managed to make himself an unescapable presence in the public eye following back-to-back victories over budding stars in Ben Askren and Darren Till – a pair of victories that showcased a newfound level of raw power in his offense, something he had perhaps been lacking during his original run at 155lbs.
We’ve seen Masvidal slip in the past to narrow decisions that could have been swayed by the existence of that added level of heat or an extra gear but in this most recent run, his desire to finish has no doubt grown dramatically.
Diaz, on the other hand, will always be there to take a finish if it presents itself but up until now he has been guilty of taking unnecessary amounts of damage while relying on his knack for wearing his opponent out.
The scheduled five rounds of fighting will likely play into Nate’s hands but at this point in his career, I think it’s important to highlight that he has fought through several brutal wars in the past.
Nate is, of course, always in superb condition. His chin and, in particular, his ability to recover is a testament to that fact but at 34, given the shots he has absorbed, fighting a welterweight with the finishing prowess of a Jorge Masvidal is something that should be at least some cause for concern.
Perhaps he will be able to eat those shots. Perhaps not. But make no mistake, regardless of the telegraphed takedown attempt that made it possible, if Jorge were to connect with a strike that holds a similar level of venom to the one he sparked Ben Askren with at UFC 239, Nate will not survive it. Masvidal has that in his locker.
In this fight, to an even greater extent than his pair of showdowns against the natural 155lb-r Conor McGregor, Diaz is in great danger of relying on his chin too much.
The pop that came from the former dual-weight world champion’s perfectly timed left hands could well pale in comparison to the raw power that Gamebred brings to the table.
I think Nate is there to be hit and as history has shown us, his style is one that will most certainly leave him vulnerable to taking damage.
With that being said, twenty-five minutes is a very, very long time to be in there with a Diaz brother and if the former lightweight title-challenger can avoid the referee’s intervention, I feel confident backing him to rally in the later rounds against a diminished Masvidal.
I’m not saying Jorge is a certainty to gas himself out, but there is no doubt in my mind that these two are going to throw down at a pace befitting of this fight’s billing. That leaves two possible outcomes, the two possible outcomes that most have predicted for this fight.
Either Masvidal gets him early, or Diaz controls proceedings late.
It goes without saying that this is MMA and absolutely anything can happen, but based on what we know about these two gentlemen, each of their respective paths to victory is quite clear.
If Jorge wins early, we will be left in a collective state of shock and awe. If Diaz pulls it off, expect this fight to be a classic.
I might be wrong, but I think Nate is on another level as far as being the complete package is concerned. Don’t get wrong, I do not think that he is the more complete athlete of the two, but as far as genuine threats inside the octagon are concerned, at this point in his career, I think he’s the marginally tougher nut of the two to crack. Over five rounds, he will ask more questions of Jorge than Jorge will of him.
I don’t believe that this fight will see a finish either way but expect Diaz to ramp up the intensity after a few hairy moments to take home a tightly-contested decision victory.
Likelihood: Masvidal 48%, Diaz 52%
Prediction: Nate Diaz by decision.