NEW YORK -- Nate Diaz might be a bad man, but he isn't the baddest -- at least not for now.
That distinction belongs to veteran welterweight Jorge Masvidal as of Saturday, as he soundly defeated Diaz via third-round TKO. The nontitle welterweight bout, which was promoted as a BMF belt fight, headlined UFC 244 on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
The bout ended unexpectedly, as a ringside physician for the New York State Athletic Commission decided to wave it off between the third and fourth rounds because of a cut over Diaz's right eye. The cut was definitely leaking blood into Diaz's right eye, but it did not appear to be significantly worse than cuts in fights other commissions have allowed to continue.
Both Masvidal (35-13) and Diaz (20-12) expressed interest in an immediate rematch.
"For a fact, I told Nate right now, let's run it back," Masvidal said in his postfight interview in the Octagon. "UFC, make it happen. Let's run it back. I don't like to leave the ring like this with my opponent conscious. There's only one way to do it, and that's to baptize them, and I didn't get to baptize Nate, so we're going to run it back."
Diaz said he was shocked that the doctor stopped the fight.
"I didn't think they were going to stop it," he said. "I was getting ready to get started."
Regardless of what might have happened in the last two rounds, there was no question that Masvidal, of Miami, was ahead at the time of the stoppage. He opened the cut in the first round, with a hard left elbow in the clinch. He hurt Diaz moments later with a kick to the head.
Masvidal, who improved to 3-0 in 2019, staggered Diaz with the lead right hand in the second round and continued to land combinations in the third. Diaz repeatedly wiped blood away from his right eye but answered with flurries and slaps of his own. Per UFC Stats, Masvidal outlanded Diaz in total strikes 139-87 through three rounds.
"We're going to run it back, so don't worry about it. It's going to happen again," Masvidal said. "The only strategy was to take him out. Nate is a dog. I was sitting on that chair going into the fourth and fifth round, and I was hyped. I was ready to go. I saw it in his eyes. He was ready to go for championship rounds.
"I'm not the doctor here, so don't boo me. I came in here to fight, and it's not my fault that the doctor stopped it."
UFC president Dana White said he initially was against the stoppage but changed his mind after he saw the severity of Diaz's cut.
"Obviously when you put on an event, you want a definitive, spectacular finish, but you don't get it all the time," White said.
"When the fight first ended ... I thought that the fight should have gone on, and then I just went and saw Nate in the other room over there and I was looking at him, and I was going, maybe the fight shouldn't have gone on, you know? His eyebrow was flopped over like this, and he's got another cut underneath the eye."