Given it was billed as one of the most eagerly anticipated fights in recent years, when Nate Diaz dropped the bombshell that he wouldn’t be fighting Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244, needless to say, the news came as a complete bombshell just over a week ahead of being the tentpole main event.
Due to fight Masvidal for the BMF (Bad Mother F***er) belt at Madison Square Gardens on 3rd November, Diaz revealed via his official Twitter account that he was “not gonna make it out to NYC” having tested positively for banned substances, suggesting it “might be from some tainted supplements” he’d taken.
“I only take Whole Food or natural food supplements. I don’t even eat meat,” Diaz stressed defiantly, urging UFC and the US Anti-Doping Agency to resolve the situation, otherwise he wouldn’t be fighting at UFC 244. He also launched a stinging attack on rival fighters and the fighting organization itself, insinuating a culture of doping and cheating.
As fears of the fight not proceeding quickly spread, even many bookmakers pulled their Diaz vs Masvidal listings from betting websites. While many other fighters and UFC commentators took to social networks, critical of the comments Diaz had made, Masvidal on the other hand was supportive. “I know your name is clean,” he said, eager for their meeting in the octagon to go ahead as planned.
In the end, even though they hadn’t suspended the main event at any point following the comments by Diaz, UFC issued an official statement via their website. They insisted that as scheduled, the fight with Masvidal would indeed be going ahead. UFC also confirmed that while Diaz had indeed failed an out of competition test, the fighter hadn’t committed any anti-doping violations, concluding that his results had been “atypical” following investigations.
UFC underlined that further tests of a plant-based multivitamin used by Diaz, had indeed been contaminated by trace amounts of LGD-4033, which is a selective androgen receptor modulator, currently still being tested as a pharmaceutical treatment for muscle wasting. As yet, it hasn’t been approved for clinical use in the United States and is considered a banned substance in sports.
However, the UFC underlined that in this case, with the support of several independent experts, and given the tiny amounts found in Diaz during his USADA tests, there were no provable performance enhancing benefits given the dosage was around 10,000 times lower than any normal therapeutic dosage of the drug. As such, they remained content that Diaz was completely innocent and remained clear to fight Masvidal as planned.
After such a dramatic couple of days, along with serious fears that the Madison Square Gardens main event at UFC 244 wouldn’t be going ahead, the two fighters are thankfully now focused on their final preparations. Heading into the bout, Masvidal is the 888 Sports betting favourite to claim victory, although a tight contest is still expected as he battles with Diaz for the BMF belt at the weekend.
Masvidal has a record of 34 wins and 13 losses during his fighting career since 2003. Following back to back defeats in 2017 against Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson, the 34-year-old from Miami took a break for 16 months. Refreshed and stronger than ever, he returned with a bang with a KO victory against Darren Till in March 2019, then achieved the fastest knockout in UFC history, destroying Ben Askren at UFC 239 with a flying knee in just 5 seconds.
Hailing from Stockton in California, Diaz has also enjoyed an exciting career since his first bout in 2004. His record from 31 fights currently stands at 20 wins and 11 losses. Back in March 2016 he defeated Conor McGregor with a rear-naked choke at UFC 196, yet lost an epic rematch against the Irishman at UFC 202. Diaz defeated Anthony Pettis at UFC 241 in August this year, setting him up for the fight with Masvidal.
Given the respective records of both fighters is so evenly matched, this UFC 244 bout between Diaz and Masvidal promises to be a fascinating battle between two excellent combatants. One that fight fans have been relishing the prospect of seeing for some time. Despite the drama over recent days, hopefully, the fight should live up to the top billing hype and expectation.