LONDON – If Marc Diakiese had gotten his wish, he wouldn’t have even fought at UFC on ESPN+ 5. A trio of losses made him think he needed time to rebuild himself on the local circuit before getting back to the big show.
“After the last fight, I wanted to get released (from contract), because I felt I’m young and learning, but I’m getting beat by mistakes,” Diakiese told reporters, including MMA Junkie, backstage at The O2.
Obviously, not getting his wish turned out pretty well. Diakiese (13-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) snapped his skid with a dominant win over Joseph Duffy (16-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC), outworking the Irish veteran for a unanimous decision.
The announcement of the win crumpled Diakiese, who broke down in tears and could barely pull himself together during his post-fight interview inside the octagon.
Backstage, he was all smiles.
“I had a lot of doubters, like, yeah after this, he’s out, so it’s nice to get this win out of the way,” Diakiese said.
One major improvement Diakiese credited is his move back home to the U.K., where he got his start. Although he valued his time stateside at American Top Team, he said he got more personal attention with his former crew.
Once a hot prospect in the UFC’s lightweight division, Diakiese can do all the rebuilding he wants inside the promotion. He’s not in a rush.
“I’m just going to be a lot smarter now, not just taking fight after fight,” he said. “I’ll take my time and see what’s next.”
These were my picks: Teco, Volkan, Edwards, Masvidal. Considering Volkan’s robbery, it was all good for me.
I already told y’all that the best nights for UFC are when fans are left shook. Shook! The OMG moments we can’t stop talking about. I don’t think I have ever seen/heard a venue go silent like it did at the O2. Amazing work by Masvidal.
Do you want to be a fighter? That’s what Dana used to say. Well, if you do, you better recognize some natural law, recalling a useful example laid down by the Skrap Pack back in the day. To the victor go the spoils.
To the victor go the spoils, something like that. So let the man enjoy his spoils, whether that’s an in-cage interview, a live feed with ESPN, or a lion feasting on a gorilla he just killed, let him have that moment. Adrenaline is high.
Why not be respectful? Why couldn’t Edwards walk up and shake Jorge’s hand? Hey man, good fight. What’s wrong with that? He can talk trash all night on Insta and Twitter if he likes. Or on the drive home with his 35 friends who were walking with him. Let the man have his moment.
But that didn’t happen. He pulled a Mayhem and started talking trash to Jorge when he was being interviewed by ESPN. In hindsight, this was a bad idea.
A recap: Mas is being interviewed, telling Laura Sanko about his passion for the fight game, for his family, when Edwards rolled up with an entourage. Told Jorge he was going to get his @ss kicked in July, then tried to roll out with said entourage. Jorge, not hearing or understanding everything that was said, innocently strolled over to Edwards and his team and asked that the statements be repeated. There were words. Edwards put his hands up to strike, but was served a hot 3 piece with a soda.
I am biased, but that’s what I saw on the video.
Dana may choose to fine him, but I hope not. This was a security violation; a breach. Masvidal should get his show and win purse, his $100K in bonuses, and an additional $50K for having to take two fights in one night. Then sort out the security lapses that allowed this to happen in the first place.
As for Jorge Masvidal, the KO made him a contender. The 3 piece made him a star. Title shot please.
What mattered most at UFC on ESPN+ 5 on Saturday in London? Here’s a thing or five …
1. You mickey-fickeys act like you forgot about Jorge Masvidal
All that talk about Darren Till’s big left hand, who knew it was Jorge Masvidal’s that would end up being the fight-ender? Well, maybe Masvidal knew all along. All week leading up to this matchup, even in Till’s backyard, he seemed to be trying to find ways to let us know that you forget about his presence in this division at your peril. Just because he’s been in this sport since the backyard brawling days of Kimbo Slice, it doesn’t mean he’s even close to done.
Let the quickness with which the London crowd fell silent be a reminder to welterweights everywhere. When you invite Masvidal to your homecoming party, there’s a good chance he’ll spoil it all and walk out with the loot.
2. After the party it’s the after-party …
The way Masvidal told it later, he went walking up on Leon Edwards backstage with his hands behind his back to demonstrate his non-threatening intent. Somehow, Edwards must have got the wrong idea when he saw Masvidal coming at him with a what-did-you-just-say look on his face. Imagine that.
The next thing you know, Masvidal is hitting Edwards with “the three-piece and a soda,” and the UFC has a backstage brawl caught by ESPN cameras.
Just how upset about this turn of events is the UFC? Company president Dana White expressed the usual dismay on Twitter afterward, though he seemed to suggest that it was the UFC staff that needed to improve – not the fighters. And if you’re in the business of selling violent animosity, maybe stuff like this just makes your job easier. (See also: McGregor v. Bus, 2018.)
We’ll know the truth of the matter once the UFC decides on a response. Especially if that response effectively doesn’t exist.
“Even the coaches of Reyes came to me before the judges announcement and after the judges announcement and told me I was winning the fight,” Oezdemir told reporters backstage after his split-decision loss to Reyes at UFC on ESPN+5 from The O2. “I don’t want to say it’s (expletive). Maybe I should have produced a little more, but I clearly won the fight.
“I was the better man tonight, and unfortunately the judges didn’t see it that way.”
Reyes (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) took home two 29-28 scores while one judge scored it the same for Oezdemir (15-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC), who suffered his third straight UFC loss after opening his UFC tenure 3-0.
“I think he was good, but I don’t think he was as good as other people I’ve fought,” Oezdemir said. “But at the end of the day, he passed the test. I definitely think I’m going to take the fight if we get a rematch.”
Back to the drawing board is the plan for the Swiss fighter, who rocketed up the light heavyweight ranks only to fall short in a title fight against then-champion Daniel Cormier early last year.
Oezdemir hoped to face surging light heavyweight Thiago Santos or Corey Anderson before he heard the bad news. Although he’d still like those opportunities, he needs to rethink his next steps.
“Definitely a lot of different opponents I’ll be interested in fighting,” Oezdemir said.
Jorge Masvidal was backstage, minding his own business, doing an interview after his UFC on ESPN+ 5 headlining win when things got out of hand.
Masvidal was interrupted by fellow welterweight Leon Edwards, who was victorious earlier in the co-main event. Edwards started talking trash as he walked by, causing Masvidal to turn his attention. Masvidal didn’t just talk back, though. He calmly walked toward Edwards with his hands behind his back until he approached him. That’s when Masvidal threw a combination of punches that caused a cut under Edwards’ eye.
The entire incident was caught on video by ESPN cameras. In an interview with ESPN, Masvidal offered his side of what transpired, saying the beef with Edwards started on social media and explaining that he threw punches after Edwards raised his hands first.
“One of these hooligans, man,” Masvidal told ESPN. “He’s like talking crap on social media. I seen him here (during UFC London fight week); (he) doesn’t really address me as a man. I wanted to talk to him kind of, and he’s just like dodging me. Whatever, we can handle it after the fight. So I’m doing this interview, and this hooligan comes by saying some stuff: ‘July, get your ass kicked in July – July.’ And I go, ‘Maybe.’
“But whatever. Because maybe I want to kick your ass in April. Maybe I don’t want to wait until July. Maybe I don’t even want to fight you in a prize ring, because you’re not worth a training camp. I’ll just fight you here. Because you’re a scrub.
“So I tell him, ‘Just say it to my face like a man.’ You’re saying it walking away. We’re both men, you know. And as I’m walking up to him, I’ve got my hands behind my back to signal I’m not coming here for problems. But he put his hands up like this – it’s on video – and walks towards me. Well, where I’m from, if you do that, you’re going to punch me in the face, and that’s not going to happen. You’re a (expletive) dork; you’re JV, beta. You are what you are. You’re just a loser in life. You’re not going to get a hit off me. So I gave him the three piece with a soda, and then just glide out of there.”
Regardless of blame, the altercation was a jarring sight and an unfortunate turn considering the moment Masvidal had seized not long before when he knocked out Till. Masvidal didn’t gloat over his win and praised his fallen opponent while asking the UFC for a title shot and performance bonus – which he earned double the money.
Masvidal said that even though it might not have appeared this way on camera, he “was scared.”
“It might not have looked it, because I’m cold-blooded, but I was scared out of my life,” Masvidal said. “I said, ‘This hooligan is here and is going to assault me.’ He shouldn’t have done that and walked towards me like he was going to punch me. I got the first one in. Am I going to be in trouble because I got the first one in?”
That was too early to determine in the immediate aftermath of the incident. UFC executive Dave Shaw said during the post-event news conference that “we’ll review all the details … and take next steps from there.” Shaw added that UFC President Dana White already was looking into it. White expressed shock over the incident to ESPN.
“I can’t even believe that this happened,” White said. We need to do a much better job of making sure this shit doesn’t happen at any of our events!!!!”
Conor McGregor is dealing with some legal trouble at the moment, but that isn’t stopping him from living his life – specifically as a special guest at an NHL game.
On Saturday night, the former two-division UFC champion attended the Boston Bruins-Columbus Blue Jackets game in Boston, where McGregor did the ceremonial puck drop. It was Irish Heritage Night ahead of St. Patrick’s Day at TD Garden.
As you might expect, the crowd went wild as McGregor was announced, and he walked onto the ice with his trademark “Foggy Dew”/“Hypnotize” playing in the arena. You can check it out here (via Twitter):
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
The Blue Corner is MMA Junkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly serious, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.
Conor McGregor is hoping to make his return to the octagon in July, but has not disclosed who he will be fighting in his next UFC contest.
The former featherweight and lightweight champion has not fought since his submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October and is currently serving a suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission for his part in the brawl after his defeat to the Russian.
Thai Fight marks its tenth anniversary on March 30 with the event held in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand. Established in 2010, the organisation has held two seasons of knockout tournaments featuring the likes of Fabio Pinca and Buakaw Banchamek, just to name a couple, followed by a series of events produced across the world with the A-list Thai fighters battling it out against international competitors.
Next Saturday the promotion visits Nakhon Si Thammarat, southern city of Thailand. The event is dedicated “to celebrate the great 10th year of Thai Fight and to promote Thailand’s tourism,” (via Facebook).
Famed Saenchai is scheduled to headline the upcoming show, which is his second outing in one month. Early March the four-division Lumpinee Boxing Stadium champion traveled to the UAE where he earned a unanimous decision against Valerii Abramenko in the main event of “Fight Night Dubai”.
Such Thai fighters as Tengnueng Sitjesairoong, PTT Sor.Pattanagas, Saensatharn, Chanajon, Payak and Petch Samui, Kitti Sor Jor Danrayong and Samingdej are also scheduled for “Thai Fight Nakhon Si Thammarat”. The name of fighter going up against Saenchai as well as other matchups are expected to be announced in the coming days.
David Benavidez (21-0, 18 KOs) made a huge statement in stopping veteran fighter J’Leon Love (24-3-1, 13 KOs) in the second round of their matchup. The contest took place at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas on March 16, 2019.
The first aired live on the PBC on Fox Pay-Per-View telecast which was headlined by Errol Spence vs. Mikey Garcia.
This was the first time Benavidez was seen in the ring in over a year when he defeated Ronald Gavril. Following a positive test for cocaine use, Benavidez was stripped of the WBC Super Middleweight title.
Benavidez didn’t just need to win on Saturday night, he needed to make a statement. He did exactly that as he made quick work of Love.
During the build up of their matchup both fighters quickly grew a dislike for one another. Love, who is traditionally a boxer that fights on his back foot, came out aggressive. He paid for it as Benavidez landed a few big shots that had him rattled with just a few seconds remaining in the first round.
The second started with Benavidez picking up right where he left off by hammering away at Love who had little-to-no answer. A right hand seemed to have Love out on his feet. From there, Benavidez landed a few more shots before the referee stopped the contest.
Following the knockout win Benavidez didn’t seem surprised in the slightest with the end result.
“I expected to knock him out,” said Benavidez. “But when I hit him with the first good shot, I knew he wasn’t going to last. I tried to pace myself, but it wasn’t necessary tonight.”
Now that he is officially back in action he quickly turned his attention to Anthony Dirrell who is in possession of the WBC title that was stripped of Benavidez.
“I saw Anthony Dirrell with the WBC belt,” said Benavidez. “He can’t call himself champion until he fights me. That’s my belt. I’m going to go get it. It’s mine.”
Dirrell won the vacant title over Avni Yildirim in February of this year by technical decision to lay claim to the belt. A clash between these is wanted and needed.
Benavidez was never defeated in the ring for the belt so his belief that he is still a champion is warranted. Dirrell however thinks otherwise. A matchup would settle the debate. Let’s make it happen.
By Dan Ambrose: Errol Spence Jr. did an admirable job on Mikey Garcia, beating him by a decisive 12 round unanimous decision in their pay-per-view fight on Fox Sports on Saturday night, and he then called out superstar Manny Pacquiao, who came inside the ring afterwards. (Photo credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX Sport) Spence said, “It would […]