UFC 244 now has its headliner, and it’s apparently for the “Baddest Motherf***er” title — a belt UFC president Dana White is actually having created for the Madison Square Garden main event in November. The announcement comes after plenty of back-and-forth on how the card would be built and a failed bid to get Colby Covington in the Octagon against Kamaru Usman.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported UFC tried to come to terms on a Covington-Usman welterweight title fight, but couldn’t agree on details with Covington. After Masvidal agreed to take Covington’s place, they couldn’t reach a deal with Usman. In turn, the UFC reportedly offered Usman’s spot to Leon Edwards after threatening to strip the belt from Usman.
Eventually, they settled on creating a brand-new belt and throwing together Diaz against Masvidal, ending the chances (for now) of a trilogy bout with Conor McGregor. Diaz-Masvidal is a fight fans have been clamoring to see since Diaz called out Masvidal after dispatching Anthony Pettis in a decision victory in August.
While no traditional UFC title is on the line here, it has significant implications for a future title shot. Masvidal’s career has been rejuvenated, as he rides a two-fight win streak with a knockout of Darren Till in March and a five-second knockout of previously-unbeaten Ben Askren in July. Whomever comes out of this one with their hand held high could angle for a title shot in early 2020.