Later this month, Poirier and Gaethje face off for the BMF belt in the main event of UFC 291. While the belt is more ceremonial than anything, it was nonetheless vacated by Jorge Masvidal when “Gamebred” retired from MMA following his loss to Gilbert Burns at UFC 287. In light of his retirement, the UFC decided to bring the belt back for this upcoming fight, and Masvidal is personally thrilled with that decision.
“I love it,” Masvidal said on The MMA Hour. “Keep it alive. They picked the right fighters to do it, that are going to f****** give their life. The first BMF fight, you got to see what it should be about: Guys trying to kill each other, and no matter what, pushing forward through. Because if the referee doesn’t stop that, I literally would have to kill Nate Diaz, because he was going to keep coming, keep coming, and keep coming. And I was more than ready to kill him. That’s what it needs to be like. When you get in there, you’ve got to understand, you’ve got to go for it all, put on a show for these motherf****** around the world, live, everybody. And I think they picked the right two candidates to do that.”
The BMF concept was dreamed up by Nate Diaz in 2019 when, following his win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 241, Diaz said he wanted to defend his fictional belt against Masvidal next. Fiction then turned into reality as the UFC co-opted the idea, creating the promotion’s first title not tied to a specific weight class or tournament since the old Superfight championship in the late 1990s. Masvidal won the ensuing fight with Diaz at UFC 244, becoming the inaugural — and thus far only — BMF champion in promotional history.
And Masvidal believes his teammate, Poirier, is primed to carry on his legacy.
“Obviously I’m leaning heavily towards Dustin, not just because he whooped his ass the first time and mopped him up,” Masvidal said. “I think he’s going to do it a second time even better and cleaner. Dustin’s just good, bro, and he keeps getting better. I’m in the gym with him, I see this guy just getting better. I think he’s going to hit Gaethje, because Gaethje is going to be trying to catch up from all the mistakes that he did last time. ‘Let me not do this, let me do that.’
“Without saying too much, I think D’s going to catch him by surprise with some new things that he’s got in the works. It’s going to end up being a great fight, my boy Dustin with his hand in air. DP, another belt to his collection. It’s going to be a great night.”
Masvidal noted the UFC did not run the BMF’s return by him prior to announcing the bout, but did say the promotion reached out seeing if he would be willing to do interviews surrounding the fight. Masvidal seems open to that, but what he really would like to is to be the one who officially passes the torch to the next champion, doing what Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson did for him and officially wrapping the belt around the new champion.
“Dana, let me go over there, put the belt on Dustin’s waist,” Masvidal said. “Let’s do it. Dana, Hunter [Campbell], make it happen. I don’t know who they’re going to end up picking and choosing, but I 100-percent agree [I should be the one to do it]. And then Dustin gives the belt to the next guy. It’s called tradition.”
White appeared open to the idea when pitched it this past weekend at UFC 290.
Poirier and Gaethje first met in MMA Fighting’s 2018 Fight of the Year, which Poirier won by fourth-round TKO. Five years later and the two now match up with a probable No. 1 contender spot on the line. But if Gaethje wins, Masvidal says that despite his retirement, you never know — he might just come back to reclaim what was his.
“Since I left, I always said I’m gone for now, but I don’t know if I’ll be back later,” Masvidal said. “I love this sport so much. Those days that I do good in the gym, it’s counterproductive because now I’m like, ‘I told you, Mike Brown! I’m ready to go back in there!’ And then Mike Brown is blowing smoke up my ass. ‘Man, you never looked better!’ Then before you know it I’m booking a fight.”