The dream fight to decide the baddest man in UFC


Nate Diaz (R) challenged Jorge Masvidal (L) to a fight for the 'baddest [expletive] in the game' belt. (Yahoo Sports illustration)
Nate Diaz (R) challenged Jorge Masvidal (L) to a fight for the ‘baddest [expletive] in the game’ belt. (Yahoo Sports illustration)

After UFC 241 it became clear that both Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal appear interested in fighting one another. The two UFC superstars have the charisma, body of work and legions of fans to make this a mega-fight.

There’s likely a lot of negotiating that would need to be done before such a dream matchup between the legendary veterans can become a reality, especially because both of them have the dignity and bravery to demand better pay from the UFC.

Still, we can’t help but look ahead toward such a possible bout after Diaz’s respectful call-out of Masvidal this past weekend. So, let’s look at just a few of the key areas of a Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal superfight, below.

Striking

Once again, Diaz may face in Masvidal another opponent who is theoretically more well-rounded of a striker. Diaz absolutely does use kicks occasionally, as well as elbows and knees.

In fact, his knees from the clinch against Pettis were expertly delivered. Most of Diaz’s kicks, however, are distance warnings and shots across the bow.

Where he does his most damage is with his punches, which are delivered accurately and in overwhelming volume. Masvidal is also a fantastic MMA boxer, capable of going to to the body and head, both, as well as able to deliver KO shots from both stances.

After beating Anthony Pettis at UFC 241, Nate Diaz looked to a potential fight with Jorge Masvidal. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports)After beating Anthony Pettis at UFC 241, Nate Diaz looked to a potential fight with Jorge Masvidal. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports)
After beating Anthony Pettis at UFC 241, Nate Diaz looked to a potential fight with Jorge Masvidal. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports)

Masvidal is also good at punching from different angles, that is to say with both straight shots and hooks, and he also moves his feet well and connects while moving laterally, circling, or even backing up. It’s all quite impressive.

Beyond that, Masvidal is a student of all styles, and has a good understanding of muay thai kickboxing as well as boxing. Over the course of their incredible careers, both Diaz and Masvidal have sometimes started off slower than opponents.

That isn’t necessarily a weakness, as they used their time to observe opponents’ movements and get their timing down. Sometimes starting less offensively than their opponents causes them to get behind on scorecards, however.

Both men have started out quite fast in their most recent fights, so it will be interesting to see what type of approach they take should they fight one another. I’m willing to bet that how long the fight is scheduled for will impact this.

Diaz said he trained differently for the Pettis fight, since it was three rounds as opposed to five, so that he could push a faster pace from the start, now unable to outlast his opponent over the course of five rounds. What approach would he take against Masvidal?

Masvidal has also seemed to learn that he needn’t always wait so long to get into his own rhythm. One has to wonder if he’ll go right after Diaz, as unafraid of ending up on his back against him as he was against Ben Askren.

Masvidal is certainly a bit more explosive than Diaz, but most of the Stockton fighter’s opponents are. A motivated and healthy Diaz is capable of putting together and sticking to smart game plans.

We saw this last weekend against Pettis. On the outside, where he is often successful because of his long reach, Diaz very well could have gotten touched up by the excellent kicker and much faster and explosive Pettis.

Instead, Diaz mostly fought like the shorter man, pressing Pettis against the cage, using superior head position, punches and takedowns to dominate from close quarters.

Wrestling

Nate Diaz is a real threat on the mat. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)Nate Diaz is a real threat on the mat. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Nate Diaz is a real threat on the mat. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

If Diaz can press Masvidal against the cage, he’ll likely have a lot more trouble taking him down than he did Pettis. Pettis is a good MMA wrestler, but Masvidal is excellent, there. In fact, he’ll probably be able to take Diaz down if he sets up his attempts well with punches.

Diaz uses leverage well in the clinch, setting up and defending takedowns. When he is taken down, he is an immediate threat with submissions. Masvidal won’t be desperate for takedowns, here, but if he can manage to score a few, late in rounds, it could make a difference on scorecards.

Ground work

Masvidal is incredibly hard to submit. Even if he ends up on top or behind Masvidal, Diaz will likely have a hard time finishing “Gamebred” unless he did some serious damage with striking on the feet, first.

With that said, Diaz is capable of threatening off of his back against Masvidal, and controlling position should he end up in mount or with the rear mount.

Jorge Masvidal is a scary finisher. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)Jorge Masvidal is a scary finisher. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Jorge Masvidal is a scary finisher. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Endurance

Masvidal has excellent conditioning, and there’s little reason to doubt his ability to keep a steady pace against Diaz. With that said, Diaz has always shown amazing durability in fights.

Both men would likely be coming up from lightweight once more and fight at welterweight as they have been, in recent years, and so should have training camps with full bellies behind them and plenty of energy. I predict that neither man would really fade, but for absorbing damage to the head.

Neither will have cardiovascular or muscle endurance issues. However, if one fighter begins to get hurt on the feet or on the ground with strikes, their reaction time and ability to keep fighting effectively and with speed will surely be hampered.

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