4 Reasons Why We Don’t Need to See a Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz Rematch
In November 2019, in the main event of UFC 244, Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz collided for the promotion's newly conceived BMF title—that stands for baddest motherf--ker, for those of you living under rocks.
That first BMF title fight was, by all accounts, a blockbuster.
President Donald Trump was sitting front row inside Madison Square Garden to take in the action. Pro wrestling legend and Hollywood star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was on site to present the belt to the winner. The fight was so significant inside the combat sports bubble that it caused the delay of a massive boxing match between Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev—much to the chagrin of boxing fans.
Unfortunately, the action itself turned out to be pretty disappointing.
After three rounds, seemingly all going Masvidal's way, the fight was stopped by a New York State Athletic Commission doctor, who did not like the look of the cuts Diaz had suffered.
That outcome was not popular among fans, who were as vocal as ever in their displeasure in the proceeding days and weeks. But we all moved on. Masvidal, the new BMF champ, looked ahead to a shot at the undisputed welterweight title. Diaz, as he so often does after high-profile losses, exited the public eye. The BMF title looked like it would go down in history as a somewhat silly but undeniably entertaining one-off spectacle.
Not so fast.
Earlier in September, TMZ reported that a rematch between Masvidal and Diaz is in the works for UFC 256 in December. Ariel Helwani of ESPN subsequently clarified that the fight is being targeted for early 2021 but confirmed that it is indeed in the pipeline.
This is the wrong plan.
Allow us, dear fight fans, to enlighten you as to why that's the case.
The First Fight Wasn't Close
Rematches happen all the time in combat sports. Oftentimes, they happen because the first meeting between two fighters was close.
The first fight between Masvidal and Diaz was not close.
Watch the fight again. Here's what you will see: Masvidal spending three rounds blasting Diaz with the kind of heavy artillery that probably would have stopped less durable fighters.
That's also how the judges saw it. When the the doctor halted the action at the conclusion of the third round, Masvidal was ahead three rounds to none on all three cage-side judges' scorecards. Judges Derek Cleary and Sal D'Amato each gave Masvidal a rare 10-8 score in Round 2—a signifier of a very dominant period.
Diaz hung in there—like he always does—but this fight was a beatdown in Masvidal's favor regardless of how anticlimactic the doctor-enforced stoppage was.
Diaz Wasn’t Probably Wasn't About to Start Winning the Fight
One argument that ricocheted around the combat sports universe after the controversial end to the UFC 244 main event was that Diaz was just about to kick things into high gear when the fight was stopped—that, after being strafed for three consecutive rounds, he was about to turn the tables on Masvidal and start winning in Round 4.
There is no evidence to support that argument.
While there's no denying that Diaz has the gas tank to fight five rounds pretty much any time, he's only done so twice in his MMA career.
His first complete five-round fight was a 2012 lightweight title fight with Benson Henderson, then the division's champion. The cage-side judges ruled that he lost every round of that contest, including Rounds 4 and 5. In fact, judge Marcos Rosales scored both those rounds as 10-8s in Henderson's favor.
A little less than four years later, at UFC 202 in 2016, Diaz partook in his second full five-rounder: a rematch with Conor McGregor. This fight was much closer than his loss to Henderson, but take a look at the official scorecards, and you will see that all three cage-side judges gave the penultimate round to McGregor and the fifth to Diaz.
The point of this dig into the MMA judging archives is to emphasize that there's no evidence that suggests Diaz is particularly dangerous or effective in Rounds 4 and 5. At least, not any more so than he is in the first three. In fact, of the four so-called championship rounds Diaz has been involved over the course of his career, the judges have only given him one.
So the argument that he was just about to put a beating on Masvidal when that pesky doctor intervened? It just doesn't hold any water.
Diaz Hasn't Done Anything to Earn the Opportunity
Sometimes we'll get a rematch of a fight that didn't seem to warrant a do-over. Usually, this happens when a losing fighter goes on a legendary win streak and leaves matchmakers with no choice but to give them a shot at redemption. This is how Chad Mendes earned a rematch with Jose Aldo, for example.
It's not how Nate Diaz has earned a rematch with Jorge Masvidal.
In fact, if we're speaking in terms of recent wins, Diaz has done nothing to earn a rematch with Masvidal, having not competed since the doctor waved off their first fight in Madison Square Garden.
The intention here is not to suggest that the BMF belt is a legitimate championship that fighters must earn the opportunity to compete for—it's more about giving some shine to fighters like Masvidal and Diaz who, while not always victorious, always come to throw down.
Having said that, rematches are frequently earned by the loser of the first fight. And that's certainly not the case in this instance.
There Are Better Options for Both Fighters
This is perhaps the most frustrating thing about this rematch. There are more compelling options available for both men.
This is particularly true in Masvidal's case. Having already walloped Diaz, the BMF champ could be matched up with his former training partner turned nemesis Colby Covington. He could be matched up with England's Leon Edwards, with whom he brawled backstage at a UFC event in London in 2019 but has yet to meet in the Octagon. He could be paired with the ostensibly retired Conor McGregor. Perhaps most interestingly of all, he could be booked for a fight with Nate's big brother, Nick, who recently laid out plans to return from a five-year hiatus in early 2021—when the second BMF title fight is being targeted for.
Diaz doesn't have quite as many compelling options as Masvidal, but he's not short on them, either. The most exciting item on his menu is undoubtedly a third fight with McGregor. The pair are tied 1-1, and with plenty of lingering animosity, they have a score to settle. Beyond that, he could also be matched up with Dustin Poirier, whom he was briefly scheduled to fight in late 2018 and seemingly doesn't have much affection for.
There are way better matchups out there for both men. Given that we've already seen what happens when they fight each other, why not move on to some of these other matchups?