UFC 244 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
Saturday night's UFC 244 inside New York City's Madison Square Garden featured 12 fights across some of the company's most exciting weight classes. Since the card did not feature any draws, that means there are 12 winners and 12 losers.
But not all wins and losses are created equal.
Some victories carry more meaning than others. Some L's cut deeper than the rest. So what really happened on this stacked UFC card?
Let's take a closer look.
Winner: The UFC's 2 'BMFs'
The action that preceded that anticlimactic end, however, was precisely what we were all hoping for.
While the fight was not particularly competitive—Masvidal was seemingly up three rounds at the time of the stoppage—Diaz showcased all the toughness he's known for. He also fired back with plenty of trash talk.
The result was just the kind of frenetic, profanity-riddled brawl we anticipated.
Really, no matter how this one ended, there wouldn't have been a loser in the cage. Masvidal and Diaz have both proved themselves as bona fide tough guys. No loss, be it by knockout, submission, decision or even doctor's stoppage, would change that.
Furthermore, Masvidal claimed post-fight that he hopes to run it back with Diaz. Had the pair fought to a more decisive end, there would probably be no chance of an immediate rematch.
There's your silver lining: We might get a few more rounds of action between these two fierce competitors.
Winner: Weight-Class Changes
When fighters find themselves in the midst of rough patches, they often change weight classes for a fresh start. Sometimes they end up revivifying their careers by doing so. Other times, things go disastrously, and they find themselves with losses in multiple weight classes and nowhere else to go.
The latest fighter to change weight classes in hopes of getting back on track was Liverpool's Darren Till.
In the co-main event, the Englishman hiked up to the middleweight division to take on Kelvin Gastelum. He lost his last two fights as a welterweight—a knockout at the hands of Masvidal and a submission defeat to Tyron Woodley—and desperately needed a victory in this new division.
Against a tough competitor such as Gastelum, that win was far from a certainty, but Till pulled it off, relying on his striking, reach and takedown defense to earn the favor of two of three judges.
Perhaps even more important than the win itself, however, is what Till showed us in the fight. Despite having more weight to carry around, he showed solid cardio. Despite fighting a stronger opponent than what he was used to, he did not appear to be at a big strength disadvantage. And despite being knocked out in his last fight as a welterweight, Till had a chin that held up.
All signs point to a promising middleweight career for the former welterweight.
It's the latest bit of proof that a weight-class change can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered.
Winner: Kevin Lee's Move to Tristar
Kevin Lee needed a win in New York City. Badly. It's not just that he had lost his last two fights; it's that those losses occurred in two separate divisions.
After losing a lightweight bout against Al Iaquinta in December 2018, he followed in the footsteps of many struggling lightweights before him and moved up to the welterweight division in search of greener pastures. Unfortunately for Lee, this welterweight move didn't go as planned, as Rafael dos Anjos beat him via submission.
With two losses in the rear view and no other weight classes within reach, Lee returned to the lightweight division for a high-stakes matchup with undefeated wrestling specialist Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244. Ahead of this crucial showdown, he packed his bags and moved to the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal—the gym that produced the great Georges St-Pierre.
To say this move north paid off would be an understatement.
As the first round wore down, Lee flaunted an improved stand-up game, blasting his foe with a left kick to the chin. In an instant, Gillespie was out cold, napping on the chain link like it was a hammock.
In his post-fight interview with commentator Joe Rogan, Lee spoke to the importance of his win and attributed his success to his move to Tristar.
"I needed to make [a statement] tonight," he said. "My back was against the wall."
Loser: Johnny Walker's Hype Train
If you watched any UFC 244 pre-fight promotional material, you probably heard Johnny Walker spoken of as the next big thing at light heavyweight and perhaps even the man to dethrone the division's champion, Jon Jones. Walker's opponent for Saturday, Corey Anderson, meanwhile, was not discussed with anywhere near the same level of acclaim.
The old "anything can happen in MMA" adage is pretty tired in at this point, but this bout was proof of its accuracy.
Heading into the fight, Walker was expected to have a massive advantage in the striking department, while Anderson was believed to have little chance at a victory outside a wrestling-heavy decision win.
Once the pair were in the cage, however, Anderson's striking ended the fight.
Early in the first round, the American wobbled his hyped Brazilian foe with a massive right hand. He did not relent until the referee was forced to peel him off a dazed Walker.
Just like that, Anderson had derailed the UFC's plans of a marketable Jones vs. Walker title fight and made a strong case for his own championship shot.
Whether the UFC gives him the respect he deserves is another issue.
Winner: Glendale Fighting Club
California's Glendale Fighting Club is the gym that gave us Ronda Rousey. Yet the team has not had much in the way of UFC success since Rousey's heyday as the promotion's seemingly unbeatable women's bantamweight champion.
Enter Edmen Shahbazyan.
On the UFC 244 undercard, the 21-year-old stepped into the cage with Hawaiian veteran Brad Tavares. The fight stood out as the toughest test of his career.
He passed it with flying colors.
Early in the first round, Shahbazyan dropped Tavares with a punch. Flaunting the kind of veteran poise we don't usually see in fighters as young he is, he refused to get overeager and instead stayed patient and picked his shots. Not long thereafter, he sealed the deal with a beautifully disguised first-round head kick.
Heading into the fight, Shahbazyan already held the No. 13 spot in the UFC middleweight rankings. Now a flawless 11-0 as a pro, he'll take another big step up the ladder. Yet he's not the only one to benefit from this rapid rise.
After years without a top-flight fighter, Glendale Fighting Club is now home to one of the hottest contenders in the middleweight division.
Loser: Andrei Arlovski
Andrei Arlovski's career has been pronounced dead multiple times. Yet every time that happened in the past, he plucked off his own toe tag, hopped off the gurney and went off on another win streak.
When Arlovski rebounded from three losses and a no-contest with a hard-fought decision victory over Ben Rothwell in July, it seemed as though he could be poised for another surprising win streak. He looked to improve to two straight when he took on Suriname's Jairzinho Rozenstruik on the UFC 244 undercard.
But Arlovski's win streak did not materialize in NYC. Instead, the veteran wound up face-first on the canvas after swallowing a Rozenstruik left hook only 29 seconds into the first round.
With this outcome, it's once again time to pull a sheet over Arlovski's career.
Is it really over for him this time? It sure seems that way, but he has a long history of proving us wrong.
Winner: Katlyn Chookagian
Despite being buried on the early prelims, the fight between Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia fight was incredibly high-stakes, particularly for the former.
Chookagian walked into Madison Square Garden as the No. 1 contender in the flyweight division. With a win, she would reaffirm that status. A loss, however, could cause her hard-earned title shot against Valentina Shevchenko to vanish.
Things went according to plan for Chookagian in New York City. For three rounds, she used her length to light Maia up on the feet, and she was awarded a unanimous-decision win for her efforts.
As a result, she likely earned herself a title fight with Shevchenko.
Although she didn't mention the champion by name in her post-fight interview with commentator Joe Rogan, she did send a clear message.
"The UFC knows exactly who I want," she said.
We'll likely see a Shevchenko vs. Chookagian fight added to an upcoming card soon.