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25 Oct, 2019 10:53

UFC 244: What on earth is happening with the UFC’s ‘BMF’ title fight?

UFC 244: What on earth is happening with the UFC’s ‘BMF’ title fight?

All hell broke loose on social media on Thursday night when Nate Diaz posted a message suggesting that he won’t be fighting at UFC 244 due to an adverse drug testing result. Here’s what we know so far.

WHAT’S THE ‘BMF’ TITLE?

BMF stands for “Baddest Mother F****r” and was a phrase coined by Nate Diaz during his post-fight press conference after his win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 241. He said he was fighting for “The Baddest Mother F****r In The Game” belt.

It was a figure of speech at the time – no such belt existed – but when the UFC booked his upcoming bout with fellow UFC star Jorge Masvidal, UFC president Dana White decided, just for kicks, that he’d actually commission a “BMF” belt to be made. It has reportedly cost the UFC $50,000 to make and was set to be presented to the winner of the UFC 244 main event by former WWE superstar and movie megastar Dwayne Johnson, AKA “The Rock”.

Also on rt.com The Rock to present Masvidal-Diaz winner with $50,000 'BMF' belt at UFC 244

WHAT’S GONE WRONG?

On Thursday night, a clearly livid Diaz posted a tweet that featured the following message:

I’m not gonna make it out to NYC for fight week next week because they say I tested with elevated levels that they say might be from some tainted supplements. I call false on that cause I only take Whole Foods or natural food supplements. I don’t even eat meat. So until UFC, USADA or whoever is F*****G with me fixed it, I won’t be competing. I’m not gonna play their game and try to hide it or keep quiet, as they suggested. I’m not gonna have my name tainted as a cheater like these other motherf*****s who keep quiet until after the fight just so they can get paid. F****n’ cheaters. I don’t give a f**k about some money over my dignity and my legacy. I’m not playing along with this bulls**t. I’m not staying quiet and figuring it out after the fight. That’s cheating. So fight game I’ll see you when I see you.

Sincerely,

The real baddest mother f****r in the game.

It means Diaz is saying he won’t fight at UFC 244 unless the authorities move quickly to clear up whatever anomaly has shown up in his test.

IS DIAZ A CLEAN ATHLETE?

While Diaz has a reputation as something of a maverick and a man who enjoys smoking marijuana between fights, his reputation as a clean athlete is a strong one. He and his brother Nick are vegans and are famously careful with what they eat, so the suggestion of even a tainted supplement is one that would upset Diaz, as we’ve seen in his statement above.

He received a message of support from UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who said Diaz owed it to his fans to fight the anti-doping establishment, and that he was familiar with the feeling of being "set up".

Diaz also received support from his opponent at UFC 244. As the news was breaking, Jorge Masvidal took to Twitter and posted a message to Diaz, saying: “You not the baddest mofo in the game (i am) but you are one of the cleanest mofo’s @NateDiaz209 I’ll see you nov 2. I know your name is clean. I don’t need @usantidoping to tell me s**t!”

WHY HAS DIAZ SPOKEN OUT?

That’s an interesting question. As things stand, USADA hasn’t issued a suspension, which means Diaz is technically still clear to fight. But they have flagged an issue with a recent test.

Usually, this is initially communicated in private to the athlete and the promoter but, rather than stay quiet on the matter and go through with the fight before dealing with any potential issues afterward, Diaz has opted to go public with the information. He knows his big-money fight is at risk but, more importantly to him, his reputation is at stake.

Diaz has decided to put his reputation before a payday, and that, on the face of it, seems like the honorable and creditable thing to do.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

That’s the biggest question of all. In theory, the fight could still go ahead, but it would need USADA to make a statement on Diaz’s test – which they can now do, as Diaz has gone public about it – and clear up the situation.

In short, it all boils down to whether Nate Diaz failed the drug test, or whether USADA was merely informing him of the presence of an anomalous substance that wasn’t present in large enough amounts to fail the test.

If the amounts discovered are trace amounts and not adjudged to be above set thresholds, then Diaz is free to fight. In that case, it’ll be a job for the UFC and USADA to reassure Diaz that his reputation will be retained and to help isolate whatever may have caused the testing anomaly. If the Diaz’s test isn’t flagged above allowable limits and the UFC and USADA can get Diaz onside, the fight may still go ahead.

However, if the amount discovered sits above the allowable limit, then that makes it very hard for USADA to treat Diaz any differently to any other athlete who has had a similarly flagged test. In that case, they would be duty-bound to issue a suspension in line with similar past cases. In that situation, it’s highly likely that Diaz would walk away from the UFC, and possibly the sport.

So far, there has been very little word out of USADA who gave a one-line statement to ESPN, saying: "UFC and USADA are gathering information and will issue a statement as soon as possible."

WHAT HAPPENS IF DIAZ IS OUT?

The show must go on, as they say, and UFC 244 will have to continue with a new main event. Masvidal will take on either a replacement opponent, or he’ll be pulled from the card, with the co-main event bout between Kelvin Gastelum and Darren Till moving up to the main event slot.

If Masvidal remains on the card, there are a few possible options who could step in. Reigning UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has offered to step in and fight Masvidal, even though he has a title defense scheduled against Colby Covington at UFC 245 the following month, while Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is never shy of an opportunity to step in and take up a fight.

Masvidal and Cerrone faced off in a bout at UFC on FOX 23 in January 2017 in a fight that Masvidal won by second-round TKO. Cerrone just loves fighting, and would likely be more than happy to dance again with “Gamebred” in a bid to save the show and avenge his defeat.

Also on rt.com Bad Motherf*ckers: Who are the next contenders for the UFC's 'BMF' title?

WHAT ABOUT CONOR McGREGOR?

The thought of McGregor jetting in from Russia and taking on Masvidal on just over a week’s notice would certainly appeal to the Irish maverick, but drafting McGregor in at such short notice may not make sense to the UFC as a promoter.

The Irishman’s fights draw bigger pay-per-view audiences than any other fighter in the sport, and to maximize that box-office potential it makes more sense for McGregor’s fights to get a longer run-up.

Stepping in at short notice would be an incredible story, and McGregor did tweet declaring himself to be the real “BMF” but he also stopped short of offering to step in. He then deleted the tweet. Make of that what you will...

Also on rt.com 'We will settle it, once and for all': Conor McGregor announces UFC return and vows to face Khabib Nurmagomedov again (VIDEO)