Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Earlier this month, the biggest fight of the year took place, and it wasn’t even for a legitimate UFC title. At UFC 244, Jorge Masvidal took on Nate Diaz for the one-off promotional BMF title – the brainchild of Diaz – at Madison Square Garden and such was the cultural magnitude of the fight that the biggest movie star in the world, former WWE champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was brought in to coronate the winner of the fight.
A long time fan of MMA, The Rock is even set to produce and star in a film about the life of former champion Mark Kerr and speaking with Ariel Helwani of ESPN, Johnson discussed his experience at UFC 244 and Madison Square Garden, an arena he has himself performed in many times.
“This whole thing, this idea about the BMF title and what it meant, I always felt like it was something that transcended sports, it transcended weight division because it had this incredible street credibility to it and for me just to be a part of it. . .,” The Rock said.
“I’ll tell you what happened. When I was walking to the octagon backstage – and we had that really cool entrance which I was so appreciative of – but when I was walking backstage at The Garden, walking out to the octagon, I was so precisely in the moment and I had this rush of thought of how I’ve walked that backstage in those hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden so many times, held up over my head so many WWE heavyweight titles, had the honor of wrestling in front of that Madison Square Garden crowd, but that night was very unique and different. When I got to the octagon, I realized the same flushes of thought that I went through as a wrestler which was making sure that my timing was right in the ring, the cadence was right, making sure all the highlights and high spots of a match – especially we had to go 30 minutes, 40 minutes, sometimes and iron man match – all that was going through my head and what I realized is, I had such a profound – even greater – level of respect for the fighters who not only walk those hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden, the MMA fighters who walk that walk before every fight. I had the luxury of knowing what the outcome would be in pro wrestling – and it doesn’t take away from the physicality of it – but this idea that the fighters don’t have that luxury.
“Anyway, I had a real moment being so present in that and that night was a very special night for me, being able to present that title to whoever the winner was and to be part of promoting the fight.”
Ultimately, Jorge Masvidal walked away the winner at UFC 244, which worked out well for The Rock. A standout linebacker at the University of Miami, Johnson has the Dade County connection with Masvidal and in fact it was Masvidal’s urging that prompted The Rock to get involved with the event in the first place. After wrapping the belt around Masvidal’s waist, the Rock also shared some heartfelt words with the BMF champion backstage, talking to him about his newfound fame and opportunity.
“I congratulated him of course and I talked to him about what this opportunity meant and how this BMF title that is somewhat polarizing in the sport of MMA – some guys were behind it and some guys weren’t – but again, this is this unique experience that kind of transcends weight divisions and the sport because it has such street cred,” The Rock said. “There’s incredible champions who are incredibly disciplined and skilled in multiple disciplines of MMA, and then there’s the BMFs. So I was very happy for Jorge…
“So I reminded him what an incredible opportunity this is and to take advantage of it and continue to work hard as of course he is going to do. And also, he’s got a sharp wit about him which makes him very likable. He loves to talk sh*t, as we all do down in Miami, but he also has a cool, sharp, smart wit about him and he’s got his head in the right place, and his head being in the right place is wanting to do everything he can to impact his own bottom line, impact the company’s bottom line, which will in turn generate more income for himself and the fighters. So he’s really making sure that his value is realized.”
Of course, that didn’t exactly sit well with Nate Diaz. After the fight at UFC 244, Diaz went on a diatribe about Johnson saying, “F*ck The Rock too, that motherf*cker over here playing me, smiling with Masvidal,” before later adding “The Rock’s cool. I like ballers. But he picked the wrong side so he can get his ass whipped too.” It was, truly, classic Diaz and The Rock says he was totally fine with it.
“I wasn’t surprised at Nate’s comments because that’s the Nate that we all know and love,” The Rock said. “He is as advertised. Nate, he gets it. He knows that me and Jorge we’re boys, we’re from Miami. We have a lot of deep connections down there. A lot of the fighters we know, a lot of the coaches and trainers that we know, a lot of the gyms that we’ve been to down there. So there’s a connection, so no I was totally fine with it.”
Nick. Where Nick Diaz stands on comeback: ‘It’s on you Dana. It’s on you UFC.’
Nope. Coach: Jorge Masvidal would ‘shock some people’ in a boxing match with Canelo Alvarez.
Not gonna work here anymore. Former two-time title contender Gilbert Melendez released from the UFC.
North Carolina. UFC makes first trip to Raleigh, N.C., on Jan. 25, same date as Bellator’s Cyborg vs. Budd.
Logan Paul says he’d work CM Punk.
Rogan and Izzy discussing the BMF title.
Israel on Jon Jones.
Izzy on becoming champ.
The Co-Main Event. Discussing UFC Moscow and UFC Sao Paulo.
UFC Unfiltered. Interviews with Edmen Shahbazyan, Anthony Smith, and Phoenix Carnevale.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
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@gamebredfighter official response to nick diaz. #supernecessary #baptized #bmf • Video credit @mojahedfudailat
So @GamebredFighter buried Nate and brought back nick from the dead? I’m starting to understand the whole #Streetjesus and #theresurrection now
— Ibrahim Kawa (@Abraham_kawa) November 12, 2019
Nick and Nate
Me and @GamebredFighter 2020
— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) November 11, 2019
Gilbert Melendez (@GilbertMelendez) on his release from the UFC. pic.twitter.com/9zojgrRtFe
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 12, 2019
I thought this was already planned? UFC really dragging this one out I guess.
.Decisively congrats champ @stipemiocic you’re awesome!!!! #runitback ? https://t.co/cwN1DRcAty
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) November 11, 2019
Kattar belated statement.
Ran out of time… Thank you to my team for all the work they put in with me each fight. Thank you to everyone for tuning in and showing love. Back to work. pic.twitter.com/NYsTuhFl5T
— Calvin Kattar (@CalvinKattar) November 11, 2019
You are all welcome . #UFCSaoPaulo https://t.co/f0pdCFVfnX
— Jan Blachowicz (@JanBlachowicz) November 11, 2019
Let’s make it happen. Like and retweet pic.twitter.com/QCeKXF5Aq8
— Lando Vannata (@GroovyLando) November 11, 2019
Man, listening to that Nick interview did not make me feel good. Everyone is calling for him to fight again but I hope he doesn’t.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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