MMA Junkie’s ‘Fight of the Month’ for November: A ‘BMF’ champ is crowned

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best fights from November 2019: Here are the four nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for November.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.

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The Nominees

Stephen Thompson def. Vicente Luque at UFC 244

In case there were any doubters — and going in, there sure seemed to be — Stephen Thompson (18-6-1 MMA, 11-2 UFC) proved he’s still very much a factor in the UFC welterweight division against Vicente Luque (17-6-1 MMA, 10-2 UFC).

The two time title challenger returned to vintage “Wonderboy” form as he picked apart one of the division’s hottest fighters in Luque over the course of three rounds. The judges’ scores at New York’s Madison Square Garden were 30-26, 30-26, and 29-27 as Thompson won by unanimous decision.

Jorge Masvidal def. Nate Diaz at UFC 244

Jorge Masvidal (35-13 MMA, 12-6 UFC) became the UFC’s “Baddest Mother(expletive)” after defeating Nate Diaz (20-12 MMA, 15-10 UFC) in their highly anticipated welterweight matchup.

Masvidal continued the most stellar run of his career, and perhaps wrapped up his claim to “Fight of the Year,” when he picked Diaz apart to claim the “BMF” belt. Unfortunately the end came in an anticlimactic matter, with “Gamebred” winning by doctor stoppage TKO in the third round after multiple cuts on Diaz’s face.

John Salter def. Costello van Steenis at Bellator 233

Prior to his encounter with Costello van Steenis (12-2 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) in their middleweight main event, John Salter (17-4 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) never went the distance in 20 pro mixed martial arts fights, win or lose.

Finally, that changed. Salter dominated the first two rounds in his bout with van Steenis, which was enough to win out over a later rally as he earned a unanimous decision. The judges’ scores were 29-28 across the board, putting Salter back in contention in Bellator’s 185-pound division.

Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Calvin Kattar at UFC on ESPN+ 21

Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) was made to work for it, but the Dagestani featherweight contender picked up arguably the most important win of his UFC career against Calvin Kattar (20-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC).

The matchup was rearranged from their original booking at UFC on ESPN 6 in October, with the matchup kept as a three-round affair despite headlining status. And after three entertaining rounds, it was Kattar who was in the ascendency, but Magomedsharipov who was ahead on the scorecards to take a unanimous decision.

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The Winner: Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz

On a night in which the president of the United States and Hollywood superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson were both in the house, New York State Athletic Commission Chief Medical Officer Nitin K. Sethi apparently decided he wanted to be the star of the show.

Masvidal and Diaz delivered as advertised through the first three rounds of their main event for the “BMF” title. Diaz, however, was cut above and below his right eye, and while Diaz has fought his way through plenty worse in his career, Sethi took a cursory glance at Diaz between rounds and decided to call off the fight, much to the chagrin of the capacity crowd at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

It went in the books as a TKO stoppage at 5:00 of the third round, but Masvidal, for his part, made it clear he was unsatisfied with the stoppage and was ready to run things back as soon as possible.

“For a fact, you gave me the love I’ll give you the love,” Masvidal told Diaz. “I don’t like to leave the ring like this with my opponent still conscious. We have to run it back.”

Masvidal was sharp from the fight’s outset, firing heavy hands with malicious intent. What turned out to be the bout’s most important sequence occurred early in the first round. Masvidal caught Diaz with a wicked elbow off the break, then landed a sneaky head kick which dropped Diaz to the mat. Somewhere in that flurry, Diaz was busted open around his right eye.

Masvidal was cautious about going to the mat with Diaz, which enabled Diaz to recover, but he continued to outwork Diaz in the standup throughout the first and into the second.

Diaz likes to stalk his foes, use pressure, and turn up the volume. But every time it appeared Diaz was going to turn up the heat, Masvidal managed to escape and reset.

Diaz is a cardio machine known for coming on in the late rounds. While Masvidal also won the third round, the round was also Diaz’s best, as he started to show signs he was getting it together, landing effective combos.

That built the anticipation for the championship rounds, but that’s when the doctor decided it was a good idea to step in and end the fight.

“The Rock” came in and placed the specially made “BMF” belt around Masvidal’s waist, and while Masvidal accepted it, he made it clear he wants a rematch. Diaz, for his part, let everyone know he’s down.

“I’m going back for this mother(expletive), right back,” Diaz said. “Let me heal this up and go again.”

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