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.”
“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.
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