Usually when the UFC stages one if its major events – i.e. with just a number and not a Fight Night card – it is headlined by a title bout. However, that’s not the case for UFC 244 on Saturday night, but it is a stacked card and is the organization’s 500th all-time live event. Here’s a look at the two top fights on the card and their Mybookie UFC odds.
UFC 244 Odds, Preview & Expert Predictions
- When: Saturday, 10 PM ET (main card)
- Where: Madison Square Garden, NYC
- UFC 244 Live Stream: UFC Fight Pass
Jorge Masvidal (34-13) vs. Nate Diaz (21-11)
Masvidal is a -160 favorite for this welterweight bout – it is set for five rounds as the main event despite not a title fight – and Diaz is +130. Even though there’s no official title on the line there will be an actual belt given out and the Rock will be on hand to do it. That’s because these two are fighting to be known as the “baddest m*****f*****” or BMF. The belt is being created specifically by the UFC for this fight, which features two veterans known for their no-nonsense styles inside and outside the Octagon.
It has been a breakout year for Masvidal, who prior to 2019, he had headlined exactly one UFC event. He has two very impressive wins this year. The first, at UFC Fight Night 147, saw Masvidal beat highly-regarded Darren Till by second-round knockout. However, Masvidal became famous for his amazing flying knee knockout of Ben Askren just five seconds into their UFC 239 fight in July. It was the fastest knockout in UFC history.
Masvidal ran directly at Askren and landed the knee as Askren ducked his head. Askren immediately stiffened up before dropping to the canvas. Masvidal landed a couple more strikes on the ground, but Askren was already out cold. Those two had a contentious buildup to the fight so Masvidal was happy to chirp afterward.
“He’s so predictable, man. He’s a scrub,” Masvidal said when asked why he decided to try a flying knee to start. “A part of me wanted to just throw it out there so he knew, if you do shoot [for a takedown], like an idiot, like you only know how to, your head’s going to get clipped, and then I would put the brakes on him and beat him up for 14 minutes and 30 seconds and execute him. Or, you know, he took the bait. … He walked right into it.”
Masvidal is 6-4 since he returned to the welterweight division is July 2015. He has earned all five of his UFC welterweight stoppage victories by knockout. Masvidal is one of five fighters in UFC history to finish a bout by submission at the 4:59 mark of Round 2. He accomplished the feat at UFC on FOX 8.
The 34-year-old Diaz is best-known for his two very popular and brutal fights with Conor McGregor in 2016. Diaz upset McGregor in the first and lost the second by majority decision. Diaz then didn’t return to the Octagon until this August when he took out former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision to claim he was the “baddest m*****f*****!” Diaz’s nine submission victories in UFC competition are tied for the fourth most in company history behind Charles Oliveira (13), Demian Maia (11) and Royce Gracie (10). Diaz’s five submission victories from a bottom position in UFC/WEC competition are tied with Anthony Pettis for most in combined company history.
Masvidal, based on his UFC and Strikeforce numbers, currently holds the third-highest striking differential (+1.22) among ranked welterweights, and Diaz, based on his UFC, Strikeforce and WEC numbers, is right behind him in fourth place (+1.10). On the ground, Masvidal has landed 1.73 takedowns per 15 minutes. Diaz is slightly less successful in terms of takedowns as he lands 1.25 per minute. Neither fighter holds up particularly well on defense. Masvidal has allowed his opponents to land 1.33 takedowns per 15 minutes, while Diaz has allowed 2.78.
Kelvin Gastelum (16-4) vs. Darren Till (17-2-1)
Gastelum is -125 for this middleweight bout and Till +185. Gastelum is in the Octagon for the first time since his Fight of the Year candidate against Israel Adesanya in April, where he rallied back from being down early to batter the current middleweight champion like no one had done before. Kelvin, 27, earned a title shot by defeating Michael Bisping and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
Gastelum is 4-2 (with one no contest) since he returned to the UFC middleweight division in December 2016. He’s 5-2 (with one no contest) in the organization at 185 pounds. Gastelum has suffered three of his four career losses by decision.
Till is an Englishman who is moving up to middleweight as his struggles to make the 170-pound weight limit have been well documented in recent years. Till went undefeated in his first five years as a pro, elevating him to a 170-pound title shot against Tyron Woodley in September 2018. Woodley defeated Till via submission in the second round. Till would go on to suffer a second consecutive defeat six months later via second-round knockout to Jorge Masvidal. Without a clear path back to a welterweight title shot, Till decided to ply his trade as a middleweight.
Till has outlanded his opponent in all of his UFC victories. Till is one of five fighters in UFC history to land zero significant strikes in a championship bout defeat, as he did against Woodley at UFC 228. His 9:19 of cage time is the most of any fighter in the group. The previous high was 3:54.
Expert UFC 244 Betting Picks
Masvidal by decision and Gastelum by KO/TKO.Full UFC 244 Card
Main Card (Pay Per View)
- Jorge Masvidal vs Nate Diaz (Welterweight)
- Kelvin Gastelum vs Darren Till (Middleweight)
- Stephen Thompson vs Vicente Luque (Welterweight)
- Derrick Lewis vs Blagoy Ivanov (Heavyweight)
- Kevin Lee vs Gregor Gillespie (Lightweight)
Preliminary Card (ESPN2)
- Corey Anderson vs Johnny Walker (Light Heavyweight)
- Shane Burgos vs Makwan Amirkhani (Featherweight)
- Brad Tavares vs Edmen Shahbazyan (Middleweight)
- Andrei Arlovski vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (Heavyweight)
Early Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
- Jennifer Maia vs Katlyn Chookagian (Women’s Flyweight)
- Lyman Good vs Chance Rencountre (Welterweight)
- Julio Arce vs Hakeem Dawodu (Featherweight)