After defeating Anthony “Showtime” Pettis at UFC 241, Nate Diaz called out Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, and said, “I know he’s a gangster, but he ain’t no west coast gangster”.
The crowd loved it, and Masvidal, in the audience, clearly liked hearing the call out as well. What makes this fight intriguing to you? Here are five reasons this is the fight to make, and why it will be the biggest contest of the year.
Complete Mixed Martial Artists
Both of these guys are very well rounded. Diaz has always lacked in the wrestling department, but he has a solid BJJ game, and his wrestling actually looked pretty decent on against Pettis. Both Diaz and Masvidal are great on the feet, and both are solid on the ground. Masvidal is a bit better at mixing it up, he can chain his striking with takedowns together quite well, like we saw him do against James Krause, Tim Means, and Darren Till, most notably.
Diaz boasts a 2nd degree BJJ black belt, and while Masvidal isn’t ranked in the art, he’s quite well versed in it as well. Though he only has two of his 34 wins by submission, he’s very talented on the mat. One of those two submission wins was even against Michael Chiesa, an absolute stud on the ground. 12 of Diaz’s 20 wins are via submission, just over half; and 17 (half) of Masvidal’s wins are via decision, accompanied by 15 knockouts.
Since moving to welterweight, that knockout area of his record has gotten much bigger. Masvidal’s total Strikeforce and UFC record in the 155-pound division was 9-3, eight of those wins were decisions with one submission. Move forward to his welterweight record and he’s 6-4 since moving up, three of those losses were split decisions, and five of those wins were knockouts. A pretty significant change for “Gamebred,” who is now clearly in the weight class best suited for him.
Though both of these guys are well rounded, they’re both primarily strikers. Diaz throws mostly punches, and Masvidal likes to mix it up a bit more. They’re both about as tough as a fighter could be too, considering they have a combined 24 losses, 19 of those are decisions. Eight of those decisions could have, and probably should have, been scored the other way. Neither guy has a very attractive record, but both are notorious for losing controversial decisions, or at least used to be. They could both have very different looking records with a judge or two going the other way in a few of their fights.
What’s cool about this fight, both of these guys made comebacks this year. Masvidal came back after a year and a half away to fight Till, and Diaz came back after three years to fight Pettis. Both have always had the potential to be the best, and fans have always recognized that. The problem is, they never really lived up to their potential, until now. Yes, Diaz did make it to the top of the lightweight division, but afterward, he fell harder than he rose up. Then after his last fight with McGregor, he left and was assumed to be a wasted talent at that point.
Now that each of them has had a good amount of time away, they’re both incredibly focused. It’s a beautiful thing to see, we’re finally going to see what these guys can amount to. It’s especially exciting for fans that have been watching both Diaz and Masvidal throughout the entirety of their careers. With each of them at 34-years-old, there will never be a better time to make the fight than now.
Each Came From a Rough Walk of Life
With Diaz growing up in Stockton, California, and Jorge Masvidal growing up in Miami, Florida, it’s safe to say that neither of those places host favorable upbringings. Both places are dangerous, filled with violence and drugs, and both places make it hard to make something of yourself – but these two found a way.
Diaz grew up fighting in school constantly, and his brother Nick is the one that got him into martial arts. He started training BJJ, and the rest followed shortly after. There are videos of Diaz when he was 16 years old fighting grown men at his gym in full-on fights.
Masvidal, on the other hand, has a pretty similar story. He was also fighting grown men at a young age, and there are also multiple videos of him fighting online, but his weren’t inside of a gym. “Gamebred” was part of Kimbo Slice’s backyard street fighting, which everyone knows at that point.
Considering this, there couldn’t possibly be a better nickname for someone like Masvidal than “Gamebred”. It fits him to a T, no one’s as ‘game’ as Masvidal, except maybe Diaz.
Each of these men are two of the best in the world at what they do. Each of them is a bad matchup for the majority of people they’ll end up fighting. Their frames would make this fight quite interesting as well, considering Diaz will have the height and reach advantage, as usual, but not by much. He’s an inch taller than Masvidal and has a two-inch reach advantage. What does that mean?
With Diaz’s boxing skills, he generally has success boxing at range, but what about the kicks of Masvidal? The same thing was said about the Pettis fight, that the kicks of Pettis might be too much for Diaz. We have to stop and think though, Pettis has always had issues with opponents that pressure him. But not Masvidal, he’ll do better if the fight is brought to him.
Diaz has made it to No. 2 in the UFC lightweight rankings, and Masvidal is sitting at No. 3 in the UFC welterweight rankings right now. Diaz just fought his way to No. 7 at welterweight after beating Pettis this past Saturday, they’re two of the best the sport has to offer.
As talented as the best in the world are, it doesn’t always mean they’re fan favorites, and it doesn’t even mean they’re liked. However, in this case, it’s a completely different story. These are two of the most beloved fighters in the entire sport, and for a good reason. Both are straight-up, no-nonsense type of guys personally – and professionally, they’re straight-up fighters. They will stay on the feet and trade with anyone.
There aren’t too many fights from either of them that are boring. Masvidal has had a few fights most would consider ‘boring,’ but they were at lightweight when he’d coast to decisions some of the time. Now that he’s at welterweight, he’s a different fighter. He has the same skill set, but now he has the energy to apply it more effectively, which has resulted in an 83% knockout ratio in his wins since moving up.
That’s crazy considering his last knockout win before moving up to 170 pounds was before his Strikeforce stint even started, almost six years before his welterweight debut. He hadn’t knocked anyone out in five and a half years, and now five of his last six wins are knockouts. Diaz’s skill set is the exact same, he’s just fighting 15 pounds heavier.
How do you see this fight playing out if it happens? What card would you like to see it on? Everyone wants to see it happen and Dana White said he’s onboard. We’ll perhaps soon find out, which gangster will reign supreme – East coast or West coast?