Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal are set to square off at Madison Square Garden at UFC 242 in a fight few could have predicted at the start of the year.
With Diaz still inactive after his 2016 defeat to Conor McGregor and Masvidal languishing outside the UFC’s top 10 welterweight rankings, it seemed unlikely the two should cross.
However, Masvidal’s resurgence since moving up to 170-lbs and Diaz’s emphatic return against Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis have granted MMA fans with a Fight of the Year contender.
Biggie Smalls vs Tupac Shakur, Wu-Tang Clan vs NWA, Snoop Dogg vs P Diddy; the East Coast and West Coast rivalry is as complicated as it is bitter.
And Diaz and Masvidal have a chance to etch their names into history by claiming the inaugural (albeit unofficial) ‘Baddest M***** F*****’ belt in New York.
After calling out Gamebred at UFC 240, Diaz insisted the Miami-native was the only gangster left in the game and insisted the duo would be competing for the right to be crowned the ‘BMF in the game.
The idea quickly became a reality and Dana White explained to fans why the ‘BMF’ belt will never be defended after the main event at UFC 244.
“No. It’s a one-and-done,” White said when asked to elaborate on the future of the title. “Whoever wins, wins the belt and claims the title. ‘BMF.’”
White gave credit to Diaz for the concept after the Stock-native’s use of colourful language to call out Masvidal, who was in attendance in California.
“This fight is one of those fights that sort of took on a life of its own,” White said. “Nate said in his interview this is a fight to see who’s the baddest mother f****** in the game. He’s like, ‘That’s what this championship is.’ So alright, I’m in.”
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November 2, at #UFC244 we will find out who is the true Bad Mofo King. @gamebredfighter vs @natediaz209 for the official Bad Mofo Title belt. There’s Not a fight fan alive that isn’t pumped for this one. #305 vs #209 #MasvidalvsDiaz #americantopteam Respect to @dosbrak for this masterpiece
But if these two are the baddest in the game, who are their closest competitors?
Anyone who steps into the octagon deserves respect, but there are some who are just that little bit more charismatic; be it with their fighting style or with their enigmatic personality.
So, without further ado, we have counted down the unofficial top 10 baddest m***** f******s in the UFC at this very moment in time. Check it out below!
10. Lerone Murphy
Four weeks before UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, Murphy was given a call by the UFC to see if he wanted to fight Zubaira Tukhugov.
The Mancunian Featherweight went into the contest as an underdog, but secured a split decision draw after landing 80 strikes in the three-round contest and did not look out of place, despite the late call up.
Nicknamed ‘The Miracle’, it actually is a wonder the 28-year-old is even alive.
At 3.30pm on Saturday, May 25 in 2013, Murphy was shot in the neck n a suspected gang-related activity.
Murphy still bears the scars from the entry wounds but, after spitting out the bullets himself, the slugger understandably fears no man.
9. Francis Ngannou
Before he became one of the most fearsome finishers in the UFC, Ngannou was fighting to survive and reach his teenage years.
Born in Batie, Cameroon, Ngannou had a limited education and lived in complete poverty. By the age of 12, he was working in a sand quarry to try and support his family.
After rejecting the chance to join several gangs, Ngannou decided to stick to fighting and began undertaking boxing training at the age of 22. He moved to Paris four years later in an attempt to fulfil his dream, but was forced to live on the streets.
With no money, no friends and no place to live, the ‘Predator’ trained for free and was eventually introduced to the world of MMA by coach Didier Carmont.
The rest, as they say is history; Ngannou possesses freakish power and took a combined 96 seconds to finish former UFC world heavyweight champions Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
8. Mike ‘Platinum’ Perry
Prior to his promising career as a UFC welterweight, Mike Perry spent six months in a Central Florida prison after falling into a life of drugs and crime.
“I felt like, ‘I’m stronger, tougher and badder than everyone else. Why can’t I have what I want? I’m tough enough to take it, so I’m gonna go get it,'” Perry told ESPN’s Five Rounds.
“I went about it the wrong way. Now, in fighting, I actually get to be the tougher guy and go take it — and it’s legal. It’s really crazy I get this opportunity. I didn’t get any guidance earlier.
“The things I looked up to were drug dealers and thieves, who had what I and my family never had — nice house, nice cars, nice clothes. I said, ‘Well, I’m strong. I can go get these things.'”
Perry is famous for his no-nonsense style of fighting and his desire to engage opponents at every opportunity.
While a title shot seems some way away, Perry’s bravery was never more evident during his previous contest against Vicente Luque where, despite sustaining one of the most brutal broken noses seen in the sport. However, he managed to escape a guillotine despite being unable to breathe through his nose.
7. Conor McGregor
While even the most ardent Conor McGregor cannot forgive the Notorious’ latest indiscretions, there is no doubting his place on the list.
McGregor arrived in the UFC in 2013 and set about wiping out the entire featherweight division in his quest for gold.
After a brutal run of knockouts, he fought Chad Mendes on 10 days notice to win the interim belt. He finally got his chance to become undisputed featherweight champion against the pound-for-pound king Jose Aldo, who was unbeaten in a decade. The Irishman knocked him out in 13 seconds.
After that, he jumped up two weight classes to take on Nate Diaz, beating him in a rematch widely considered to be one of the best in the history of the welterweight division.
McGregor then became the first fighter in history to hold two belts simultaneously after beating lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, before going ten rounds with the greatest boxer of all time.
After two years out of the octagon, he decided to jump straight back in against the fearsome Khabib Nurmagomedov. Although he was unsuccessful, the 31-year-old is as game as they come and the sport would be worse if he never returned to competitive action.
6. Khabib Nurmagomedov
While there are plenty of boxers who can spend most of their career protecting an unblemished record, the feat is far more difficult to replicate in MMA.
However, Khabib Numragomedov has mauled 28 men in his professional career and arguably only ever lost one round in his entire career.
The Dagestani destroyer wrestled bears as a child and was hardened by the environment he was raised in, his father Abdulmanap pushed the youngster all the way.
But Khabib never lost sight of the respect of martial arts and has shown compassion and cruelty in equal measure to his opponents. During his annihilation of Michael Johnson at UFC 205, he told the southpaw to quit so he could stop pulverising his face.
After vaulting the cage at UFC 229 after his win over Conor McGregor, the ‘Eagle’ was handed a suspension and a $500,000 fine.
But he refused to fight unless his friends, who were also involved in the brawl, were given lesser sentences. Proof that loyalty cannot be bought.
5. Derrick Lewis
Derrick Lewis one of the most lovable and hilarious chacracters in MMA, but the ‘Beast’ has a dark past.
One of seven siblings, Lewis was raised by a single mother in New Orleans, Louisiana, where trouble followed him. He took to street fighting, until the family moved to Houston, Texas.
Boxing training helped the 34-year-old, but the gym he as training at shut while he was 17 and his life was plunged into chaos. Violence and crime went hand in hand for Lewis, who was charged with aggravated assault, and was placed on probation two weeks after graduating high school.
He was then given a full scholarship to Kilgore College to play American Football, but Lewis violated his probation and was sentenced to five years in prison, up serving three and a half.
Boxing was again his saviour, but he soon developed a love for MMA and, after spells in Bellator and Legacy FC, the heavy-hitter made his way to the UFC and racked up a string of impressive wins.
4. Justin Gaethje
In a sport filled with drama and excitement, earning a reputation as ‘The Human Highlight Reel’ suggests you are doing something right.
Justin Gaethje is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling fighters to watch in the UFC, earning four Fight of the Night and two Performance of the Night awards in his five fights in the UFC.
Born in Arizona, Gathje wrestled from the age of four and became a a two-time Arizona state champion as a wrestler at Safford High School, and an NCAA Division I All-American during his time at the University of Northern Colorado.
But the 30-year-old very rarely attempts takedowns in the octagon and would rather stand and trade heavy leather with his opponents in a gun fight – which can end disastrously.
Given his wrestling ability, powerful striking and ability to absorb punishment like kitchen roll, there are many who believe Gaethje may well be the man to finally end Khabib’s unbeaten streak in MMA.
3. Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone
Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone is certainly guaranteed a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame when he decides to hang up his gloves and his hat.
Nobody in the world perhaps embodies the ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ philosophy as much as the veteran. And while a world title has evaded him in two different weight classes, the 36-year-old will forever be etched into the history books.
After defeating cocky young rising star Alex Hernandez in 2018, Cowboy earned his 21st win in the UFC and his 15th stoppage – the most in history.
Cerrone’s most endearing quality is perhaps his humility; he takes losses on the chin with grace and fights anyone at any given opportunity for the love of the sport.
Entertainment is guaranteed with every Cowboy fight and he is as likely to finish a fight with a four-strike combo or a wonderfully crafted submission.
Cerrone owns a Muay Thai gym out in New Mexico called BMF Ranch. The mantra is simple: “We don’t breed livestock, we train Bad Mother F*****”. Says it all really.
2. Jorge Masvidal
Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal has been fighting quite literally all his life. At school, the youngster scrapped on the streets of Miami.
How he got there is even more incredible; according to Masvidal, his father defected from Cuba in a self-made raft, ending up in the Virgin Islands.
The scrapper took up wrestling at St Brendan High School, but failed to get the necessary grades to continue.
He found infamy fighting under the legendary Kimbo Slice on his YouTube channel, beating Slice’s famous protégé Ray via brutal knockout.
Professional fighting was the obvious route to take, with stints as a boxer, kickboxer and with Bellator, Strikeforce before making his way to the UFC.
Gamebred is currently on the back of two devastating KO’s. First, he stopped Darren Till in London with a brutal barrage of punches, before ending Ben Askren’s undefeated streak via a flying knee in just 5 seconds – the fastest knockout in UFC history.
Masvidal has been dropped three times in fights before going on to win and has never been stopped in his MMA career. The Miami native is as tough as they come and is a born fighter.
Before we reveal who holds the unofficial BMF title in the UFC, we would like to take this chance to deliver some honourable mentions:
Tony Ferguson, Robbie Lawler, Max Holloway, Robert Whittaker, Korean Zombie, Amanda Nunes
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1. Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz is without doubt the master in the subtle art of not caring what anyone thinks about you and has achieved celebrity status in MMA.
Born and raised in Stockton California, the younger brother of Nick, Nate has become the ultimate anti-hero for the UFC. The 34-year-old threatened to become nothing more than a entertaining journeyman until he shocked the world.
On 11 days notice, Diaz submitted Conor McGregor in 2016 and when asked by Joe Rogan post-fight how it felt to have shocked the world he replied; “I’m not surprised mother f*****s.”
The image of Diaz bloodied and cut became a mural in his home town. But perhaps the reason behind Diaz’s super-stardom is the fact he just does not care. Prior to his comeback fight against Anthony Pettis, Diaz strolled into the open workout and smoked a CBD joint in front of the crowd, before passing it to fans.
“Myself and the fans, his fans, have just come to learn that he is very unique,” the U.F.C. president, Dana White, said in a phone interview. “He looks at things completely different than most normal people do.”
Although his record in MMA is not outstanding (21-11) Diaz has endeared himself to fans by entertaining and surprising in equal measure. After securing a triangle choke against Kurt Pellegrino, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert flung two middle fingers into the sky.
When a potential rematch with McGregor was teased, Diaz told Dana White to take him out for a steak dinner, just as he had for the Irishman, to hash out terms. Diaz also convinced White to let him deliver the infamous ‘Stockton Slap’, which the fighter promptly posted on Instagram.
“That’s what this culture loves,” White said, explaining that Diaz gives the finger to ‘The Man’ and does his own thing. “Nate Diaz is absolutely difficult to deal with, but I don’t dislike Nate Diaz.”