The Ultimate Fighting Championship is once again headed to New York City. UFC 244: Masvidal vs. Diaz will be hosted at the famous Madison Square Garden arena this Saturday, November 2, and will mark the fighting promotion’s 500th live event. The UFC 244 pay-per-view will air exclusively on ESPN+ (you can read more about how to stream it online here), and below, we’ve rounded up our picks and predictions for the main card featuring Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz as well as the co-main event featuring Kelvin Gastelum vs. Darren Till.
The highlight of the UFC 244 pay-per-view is a hotly anticipated welterweight bout between two seasoned MMA veterans, Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz. Diaz, ranked sixth on the UFC welterweight roster with a record of 20 wins and 11 losses, is the clear underdog heading into this fight. By contrast, Masvidal sits at number three in the welterweight rankings, boasting a lengthy record with 34 fights and 13 losses – 47 professional fights in total. Masvidal also holds the UFC record for fasted knockout (at five seconds).
Nonetheless, it’s worth pointing out that Nate Diaz had a hiatus from the UFC from 2016 to 2019, so his ranking doesn’t really reflect his current capabilities. Diaz handily won his most recent match upon returning to the octagon in August of this year, and his excellent endurance and great ground game could be enough to give him an edge over his opponent this time. If he can wear down Masvidal’s stamina by pressuring him with quick blows and force him on the ground, Diaz’s grappling skills can definitely win the day at UFC 244.
But this will be easier said than done. Jorge Masvidal is strong and clever on his feet, and the street-fighter-turned-cagefighter is not likely to get sloppy and let Diaz take the fight to the ground so easily. This battle will very likely go to the judges, and although both men are dangerous strikers, the underdog is very likely to land the higher number of blows leading to a ruling in his favor. We’re not really expecting any surprise knockouts at UFC 244 (like the record-setting KO that Masvidal delivered to Ben Askren at UFC 239) and so we’re giving this one to Diaz via unanimous decision.
The second big fight planned for the UFC 244 main card is a middleweight matchup that pits American Kelvin Gastelum against British fighter Darren Till. Both are established combatants: Gastelum is ranked number four on the UFC middleweight roster with 15 wins and four losses, while Till sits farther down at number 10, albeit with an impressive record of 17 wins and only two losses. However, both fighters are heading into UFC 244 following defeats; Till has lost his two most recent fights, while Gastelum has won only two of his latest five matchups.
It’s easy to see that these fighters are going to be equally hungry to pull off an impressive victory at UFC 244. Darren Till is the underdog, fighting at a disadvantage as UFC 244 will be his first fight after moving up to the middleweight class, and he’ll be cutting his teeth on a strong opponent in Kelvin Gastelum. However, Till has been struggling lately, and at six feet tall, a move up in weight makes sense for the 26-year-old and may give him a much-needed boost in power and stamina.
On the other hand, defense is one of Till’s weaker points, and he’ll be facing heavier hitters in his new weight class. Gastelum is at a disadvantage here when it comes to height and reach, but he’s likely to close the distance and get in his opponent’s face with harder and more aggressive striking than Till is used to. Till has a good offensive game, but his defense is too simple to overcome Gastelum – especially with UFC 244 being his first challenge at middleweight. We’re giving this one to Gastelum via unanimous decision.
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