UFC 244: Masvidal wins ‘BMF’ belt after doctor steps in at MSG

It was a crazy night in Madison Square Garden last night - and then Donald Trump turned up

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The main event bout at UFC 244 saw Jorge Masvidal take on Nate Diaz for the “BMF” title at Madison Square Garden, and the action certainly didn’t disappoint as the two UFC stars went toe to toe for three thrilling rounds. But unfortunately, the night ended on an anticlimactic note after the doctor stopped the fight from going into the championship rounds.

By then, Masvidal had sliced up Diaz, leaving him with nasty cuts above and below his right eye, as he clearly won the first three rounds with an irresistible combination of striking and grappling that had Diaz on the back foot throughout.

And while many were looking forward to seeing Diaz’s trademark surge in the fourth and fifth rounds, the cage-side physician took a look at the lacerations on the Stockton man’s face and told the referee to wave it off.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 02: Jorge Masvidal of the United States fights against Nate Diaz (not pictured) of the United States in the Welterweight “BMF” championship bout during UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden on November 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Cue boos, jeers and chants of “BULLS**T!” as the New York fans left no doubt about their opinion on the situation. But it meant that Masvidal earned a deserved victory via doctor stoppage TKO, giving him the special one-off title.

Even though the fight was contested to a sporting conclusion, the manner of the finish left a sense of disappointment around the bout, and Masvidal quickly moved to squash that, saying he’d happily face Diaz again.

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FAKE NEWS? THINK AGAIN, ERIC

Donald Trump was an interested, and controversial, spectator at Madison Square Garden, as his presence caused all manner of chaos at the arena, making life tricky for the fighters and the media backstage while the secret service put the area on lockdown to ensure the commander-in-chief’s safety.

He wasn’t safe from the boos that rained down from the top tier of the arena when he arrived to take his seat, though. While the fans sat near to him politely applauded him, the fans in the cheap seats let it be known that The Donald wasn’t welcome as they booed his arrival.

Of course, Team Trump has denied the incident ever took place, with his son Eric calling it “fake news” and saying the crowd were chanting Trump’s name and “USA, USA!” when he arrived.

Neither is true. I watched the entire event from start to finish, and have colleagues who were on press row, and while there were certainly cheers and plenty of applause, the boos were there, and they were loud.

There were protests outside the arena, too. But I expect Eric will tell us they didn’t happen either.

TILL EDGES TACTICAL BATTLE

In the night’s co-main event, Britain’s Darren Till made a victorious debut as a UFC middleweight as he moved up from welterweight and defeated former interim title challenger Kelvin Gastelum over three tactically-contested rounds.

The fight didn’t catch fire in the way many hoped it might, but Till maintained his composure throughout and outstruck Gastelum throughout the contest to earn the nod via split decision with scores of 27-30, 29-28, 30-27 from the judges’ scorecards.

It wasn’t a highlight-reel performance but, as Till explained after his win, he was bouncing back after two crushing knockout losses. And he had a short, sharp message for those who had doubted him leading into this fight.

“F**K YOUS!”

But, speaking backstage after the fight, Till showed the vulnerability so many fighters face, but aren’t always prepared to talk about, as he revealed he struggled to battle his own doubts ahead of what was a pivotal fight for his UFC career.

STUNNING KNOCKOUTS PACK THE PRELIMS

It was a night for spectacular finishes, too, with Kevin Lee scoring a stunning knockout of the year contender as he finished previously undefeated lightweight Gregor Gillespie with a devastating head kick. Finishes just don’t get more spectacular, or scary, than this…

But Lee wasn’t the only man to produce fireworks with his hands and feet. Rising middleweight contender Edmen Shahbazyan registered a head-kick KO of his own as he starched the rarely-finished Hawaiian Brad Tavares.

And it was a big night for “Bigi Boy” as Dutch kickboxer Jairzinho Rozenstruik delivered the fastest finish of the night to send former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski face-first into the canvas after just 29 seconds in his preliminary card bout.

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