In what was turning into an instant classic to crown the first ever “baddest motherf*cker” in the UFC, Masvidal was ultimately declared the winner after three rounds when the ringside physician would not allow Nate Diaz to continue due to a cut that was opened over his right eye early in the fight.
As soon as referee Dan Miragliotta waved off the contest, a chorus of boos rained down from the crowd inside Madison Square Garden, disappointed in the somewhat anticlimactic end to what started as a phenomenal fight.
“I told Nate right now, I swear that we’re running it back,” Masvidal shouted after having the BMF belt wrapped around his waist by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. “Let’s run it back. I don’t like to leave the ring like this with my opponent conscious. There’s only one way to do it and that’s to baptize them. I didn’t get to baptize Nate.
“We’re going to run it back. Don’t worry, its’s going to happen again.”
While the ending was obviously disappointing, the fight was off to a great start after Diaz and Masvidal sprinted out of their corners to go after each other as soon as the action began. Diaz was quick to set the pace with his pressure-heavy style as he walked Masvidal down with a series of punches.
Masvidal showed no signs of panic after getting locked in the clinch and then blasting Diaz with a nasty inside elbow. The shot wobbled Diaz as Masvidal came forward with a flurry of punches before ending the sequence with a head kick that put the Stockton, Calif. native down on the mat.
Masvidal went for the kill but Diaz refused to go away as he recovered while a stream of blood flowed down the side of his face after a huge cut opened over his right eye. Masvidal eventually invited Diaz back to his feet as the battle continued.
Late in the first round, Diaz started to turn things around after stunning Masvidal with a pair of straight punches that connected flush.
Diaz continued to pour on the pressure in the second round but Masvidal made him pay once again after unleashing a devasting counter right hand that landed with a thud. Masvidal followed that with a body kick that put Diaz on rubber legs again but he showed the durability that has defined his career, which allowed him to keep coming back.
No matter how much punishment he was taking, Diaz just refused to back down but Masvidal was doing far more damage including several stinging shots to the body.
As time ticked away in the third round, Masvidal was mounting more and more damage on Diaz but he couldn’t quite find the right combination to put him away. It seemed like Diaz just found new ways to avoid the finish and then coming back after Masvidal with everything remaining in his gas tank.
Just before the championship rounds started, the ringside doctor came into look at the cut over Diaz’s eye. Diaz told him repeatedly that he was ready to fight but the doctor disagreed and told the referee that the fight was over.
“I didn’t think they were going to stop it,” Diaz said afterwards. “I was just getting ready to get started.
“He got the job done like he was supposed to so right on to Jorge for what he did. But I’m coming back for your ass, motherf*cker. Let me heal up and let’s go again.”
Masvidal appeared to be up big after three rounds but it still wasn’t the statement victory he wanted in what was supposed a star making moment as he headlined his first UFC pay-per-view. While it could easily be argued that Masvidal could await the winner of the upcoming welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington, it seems entirely possible that a rematch with Diaz might just happen first.