Featuring a matchup between two of the UFC’s toughest fighters for the “BMF Belt”, UFC 244 stays true to the brand with a number of the promotion’s most exciting finishers filling out the rest of the card. While no official belt is on the line at 244, the UFC more than makes up for that by stacking the card with exciting fighters from top to bottom. With every fight featuring a combination of exciting storylines and knockout potential, there isn’t a single matchup on the UFC 244 fight card you can afford to miss.
UFC 244 takes place Saturday, November 2 at 10 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
UFC 244 Main Event: Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal for the BMF Belt
The fight almost didn’t happen due to a now-infamous USADA drug test, however, after being cleared of any wrongdoing, Nate Diaz is back for UFC 244. Coming off a big win against Anthony Pettis in his long-awaited return to the octagon, the bad boy of the UFC is officially back. Nate Diaz was away from the sport for nearly three years following his second super fight against Conor McGregor. One of the most polarizing fighters in the sport, and one of the undoubtedly one of the toughest, Diaz has vaulted himself to superstardom on the back of his gritty performances and hilarious antics – such as getting fined for smoking a CBD vape pen during his UFC 202 post-fight press conference.
Jorge Masvidal may not have the public following that Diaz has but make no mistake, he is just as tough. Coming off a mauling of undefeated superstar Ben Askren, Masvidal has had a long and illustrious career fighting some of the toughest names in the sport. From matchups against Paul “Semtex” Daley and Joe Lauzon in his early days to more recent matchups against noted tough guys Donald Cerrone and Darren Till, Masvidal has repeatedly shown that he isn’t afraid of anyone and is more than capable of stepping up to any challenge.
Both men are incredibly tough to finish, with only five combined losses coming via a finish in 78 total fights. As a result, the UFC is creating a “BMF Belt” to honor the winner of the matchup between the promotion’s toughest fighters. Expect a war between two of the UFC’s toughest competitors and for this matchup to almost certainly go the distance.
UFC 244 Co-Main Event: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Darren Till Shaping up to be an Epic Brawl
Coming off a loss for the interim middleweight title belt, Kelvin Gastelum is looking to get back to his winning ways and make another run at the belt. Known for giving the midddleweight division’s top dogs all they can handle, Gastelum’s mix of powerful wrestling and heavy hands make him a tough matchup for anyone in the sport. Though only 2-2 over his last four fights, his two losses have come at the hands of former champion Chris Weidman and current champion Israel Adesanya. In fact, Neil Magny is the only non-champion to ever hand Gastelum a loss.
Darren Till was once one of the UFC’s most exciting up and coming prospects. With a 17-0 record and fighting Tyron Woodley at UFC 228 for the welterweight belt, Till picked up the first of his now back to back losses. With his latest loss coming in a war with the aforementioned Masvidal, Till looks to get back on track and prove himself as he takes a step up in weight to fight at middleweight. Known for his dangerous standup game and absolutely massive frame at 170 pounds, Till could potentially be a better fit with considerably heavier hands at 185.
Both men thrive on turning fights into sloppy brawls and with a desperate desire to get back into the win column on both sides, this fight has all the makings of an epic scrap.
UFC 244 airs November 2 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+. You can order it here.
UFC 244: Stephen Thompson vs. Vicente Luque Features Elite Striking
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson was once considered the UFC’s preeminent super-prospect. With an electric stand-up game and a string of wins over some of the top fighters at welterweight, Thompson became a household name among UFC fans. However, since challenging Tyron Woodley for the belt in November 2016, Thompson has only gone 1-3-1 with losses to Woodley, Till, and Anthony Pettis. Though his losses have come against some of the top fighters in the sport, Thompson now faces the dreaded possibility of dropping his third consecutive fight – usually a mark of death in the UFC.
Despite stumbling out of the gates to start his MMA career, Vicente Luque has been lights-out since entering the UFC. With his lone loss coming against current fourth-ranked welterweight Leon Edwards, Luque has ripped off an impressive 10-1 run since losing in the Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale. With his latest win over the always-game Mike “Platinum” Perry, Luque has a chance to establish himself as a legitimate title contender with a win over Thompson.
As is the theme of this card, don’t expect either fighter to willingly take things to the canvas. Thompson has made a living on his exciting standup game and Luque has an extremely strong Muay Thai background. While this one might start slow with both men feeling one another out, it has the potential to go from 0-100 quickly and turn into a fun technical stand up showcase.
UFC 244: Derrick Lewis vs. Blagoy Ivanov Set for Explosive Finish
Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis is one of the UFC’s most popular heavyweights on the back of some interesting post-fight interviews. Make no mistake though, Lewis is far from a gimmick. His size and suffocating top game are nearly unescapable if he gets opposing fighters down and he does an excellent job of raining down brutalizing ground and pound to his opponents. While he is coming off back to back losses, those came at the hands of two of the best heavyweights in UFC history – Daniel Cormier and Junior Dos Santos.
Blagoy Ivanov was and still is a relative unknown to most UFC fans. Coming into his last fight as the heavy underdog against heavyweight sensation Tai Tuivasa, Ivanov put together an utterly dominant performance across three rounds. Dominating Tuivasa on the feet – where the New Zealander shines – and showing off an incredibly sturdy chin, Ivanov sent a statement to the rest of a thin heavyweight division.
Given how top-heavy the heavyweight division is, the third loss for Lewis doesn’t spell death in the same way it does for fighters in other divisions. However, age is starting to become a factor for the age-34 fighter and a loss to Ivanov could see him miss his last window to make a run at a title in his peak physical form. Conversely, Ivanov comes in with not much to lose and with an elite background in sambo to help keep the fight on the feet – an area where he has a chance to do real damage to Lewis. Slugfests between two big maulers are always a good time and it seems thats exactly the direction this fight is headed.
UFC 244: Kevin Lee vs. Gregor Gillespie Kicks Off Fight Card
Coming off a pair of losses, Kevin Lee is looking to hold onto his top 10 ranking against elite up and comer, Gregor Gillespie. Lee briefly stepped up to welterweight to face former champion Rafael dos Anjos in his last fight, though he makes a quick return back to his natural division at lightweight. One of the more well-rounded fighters on the UFC’s roster, Lee is more than comfortable keeping the fight on the feet or taking things to the ground using his collegiate wrestling chops.
As mentioned above, Gregor Gillespie is one of the hottest young prospects in the UFC. Sitting at an undefeated 13-0 and coming off a huge finish of UFC veteran Yancy Medeiros, Gillespie has the chance to vault himself into the lightweight division’s top 10 rankings and begin his assault on the belt. Similar to Lee, Gillespie was a collegiate wrestler and mixes up his gameplan well to keep fighters guessing. With six finishes coming by knockout and five by submission, Gillespie isn’t just comfortable, he’s deadly wherever the fight goes.