The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 244 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
The “BMF” title fight at UFC 244 ended in about the most ridiculous manner imaginable, as a sensational slugfest between Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz ended between the third and fourth rounds when the cageside physician ruled that Diaz’s cuts were too severe to allow the fight to continue.
The two fan favorites wasted no time, as they exchanged hard flurries within seconds at the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. Masvidal (35-13) was the first to do damage, as a knee to the body and standing elbow to the head rocked Diaz, sending him to his back with a cut over his right eye. Masvidal spent the first half of the round standing over Diaz, throwing standing punches to the body and head, before letting Diaz up. Diaz came on in the second half of the round, landing some flush head shots of his own.
That momentum carried over into the second, as Diaz’s forward pressure and volume punching had Masvidal on his heels at times, until a hard right hook from Masvidal put Diaz down again. “Gamebred” let him back up almost immediately, but his hand speed and power continued to pay dividends. By the third round, the fight was becoming lopsided in favor of Masvidal, who landed hard kicks to Diaz’s body as well as punches that worsened the cuts around his eye, which ended up precipitating the disappointing end.
With the doctor stoppage, Masvidal capped off a year that saw him go 4-0 and cement himself as the signature fighter of the year -- and, yes, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s baddest motherf***er. Diaz, who readily acceded to Masvidal’s offer of a rematch, fell to 20-12.
Till Kicking Game Frustrates Gastelum
In his first fight at middleweight, former 170-pound contender Darren Till stymied Kelvin Gastelum with leg kicks and sheer size, showing himself to be a force to reckon with in his new division.
The co-main event was a somewhat slow-paced affair, to the point that the Madison Square Garden crowd voiced its displeasure several times. For the first two rounds, the most effective offense by either man was the steady stream of low kicks served up by Till, which left Gastelum’s right leg badly bruised and its owner clearly favoring it. On the frequent occasions that the two men entered the clinch, Gastelum appeared to have trouble with Till's superior height and mass. The final round saw Gastelum finally bring the fight to the floor, but he couldn’t manage to mount any offense from there.
Till carried the day by split decision, with the judges handing in 30-27 and 29-28 scorecards against a dissenting -- and baffling -- 30-27 for Gastelum, running his career record to 18-2-1. Gastelum, just one fight removed from his interim title bout against Israel Adesanya, goes to 15-5 as he loses consecutive fights for the first time.
Related » UFC 244 Round-by-Round Scoring
Thompson Outclasses Luque
Stephen Thompson announced that he is still very much a factor in the ultra-competitive UFC welterweight division, as he sliced and diced Vicente Luque for three electrifying rounds.
Luque got the better of the first round, as his forward pressure seemed to give Thompson pause. As the rounds wore on, however, “Wonderboy” pulled away; his footwork, timing and constant stance switches simply too much for the Brazilian. As he settled into his range and rhythm, Thompson remained aggressive, mauling Luque’s face with dozens of straight lefts and rocking him with a variety of wheel and roundhouse kicks. Luque never stopped coming forward and throwing, but Thompson was simply much too much.
Thompson prevailed via scores of 30-26 (twice) and 29-27, moving to 15-4-1 and finding a new lease on life after consecutive losses to Anthony Pettis and Darren Till. The now 17-7 Luque, meanwhile, sees a six-fight winning streak broken.
Lewis Slugs Away to Split Decision over Ivanov
Derrick Lewis and Blagoy Ivanov gave as good as they got for three wild rounds in a heavyweight showcase. Both men had their opportunities to finish the fight, as “The Black Beast” rocked Ivanov with heavy punches in all three rounds, while Ivanov threatened with submissions, including a tight-looking keylock from side control in the first round and a front headlock in the second.
After three rounds, Lewis prevailed via 30-27, 28-29 and 29-28 scorecards. The win gets Lewis (22-7) back on track after losses to Daniel Cormier and Junior dos Santos, while Ivanov falls to 18-3.
Lee Annihilates Gillespie
Kevin Lee made an emphatic return to the lightweight division, knocking the previously undefeated Gregor Gillespie out cold with a head kick in the main card opener.
The first round had been playing out as a tense boxing match, with Gillespie arguably getting the better of things, until Lee saw his moment and pulled the trigger. A picture-perfect left high kick landed on Gillespie’s jaw with a resounding crack, separating the former NCAA wrestling champion from his senses instantly for the knockout win at 2:47.
With the conquest, Lee (18-5) puts behind him a two-fight skid, while Gillespie falls to 13-1.
Continue Reading » UFC 244 Prelims: Shahbazyan Blasts Tavares