Three takeaways from UFC 244

Sporting News

NEW YORK — An otherwise wonderful night of fights was met with an anticlimactic end at Madison Square Garden.

Jorge Masvidal won the BMF belt over Nate Diaz due to doctor stoppage after the third round. Diaz had a massive cut over his right eye and the doctor would not let the bout continue.

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Masvidal almost definitely won the first two rounds and possibly the third, but either way, fans were not happy, nor were Masvidal and Diaz. The latter tried to ignore the doctor and keep fighting and Masvidal wanted to keep going as well. It just was not meant to be, but both fighters want to run it back and a rematch could be at hand.

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Diaz said he was "just getting started" in this fight so it could be tailormade for a rematch.

It still was a fantastic night of fights from the prelims on up. Here are three takeaways from the night.

Three takeaways from UFC 244

Darren Till proved a point

A lot of people thought what Darren Till was doing was a mistake. Opting to not move up to middleweight was widely accepted as a good decision after he worked to get down to 170 pounds — but taking on Kelvin Gastelum? That was a dangerous proposition.

Gastelum gave Israel Adesanya trouble in a title bout earlier this year and Till was coming off two devastating knockout losses at 170 pounds. Gastelum is not a tune-up fight — he is a legitimate contender and people wondered whether Till would be at 185 pounds.

But he proved he was a true competitor with a split-decision victory over Gastelum. It wasn't flashy or necessarily pretty, but it proved a couple of points: one, he can fight comfortably at 185 pounds, and two, he can fight with the best at that level.

Is a title shot up next? Probably not as this wasn't a special performance. But was it enough to earn a matchup with Jared Cannonier? Or even a guy like Edmen Shahbazyan who showed he is the real deal Saturday? We think so.

Kevin Lee made the most of a risky play

Kevin Lee said Saturday his fight with Gregor Gillespie is the most dangerous one he has ever taken in the UFC. Gillespie is as high level of a wrestler as there is in the UFC. He was undefeated coming into UFC 244 and one of the best lightweights in the world. Coming off of consecutive losses to Al Iaquinta and Rafael Dos Anjos, Lee needed a win and Gillespie was going to be a tough guy to get it against.

But the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Lee will be met with a huge reward after his Saturday showing. Just hours after Shahbazyan all but certainly locked up a knockout of the night against Brad Tavares, Lee immediately put that showing on the backburner as he knocked Gillespie with a devastating kick to the head.

Lee — who had been all but forgotten in the lightweight division — has shot back to relevance and likely deserves another fight against a top-level opponent rather than just one to hopefully get him back into the win column.

Wonderboy gave Vicente Luque a kickboxing lesson

The rumors of Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson's demise have been greatly exaggerated. The kickboxing champion dominated Luque to the tune of a unanimous decision victory in the third bout of the night and this one wasn't close for long.

Luque did some good things initially, attacking Thompson's plant legs effectively in the going, but once Thompson settled in he started showing off his entire game with spinning attacks, counterpunches and solid work to the head and body. He truly gave Luque a kickboxing lesson.

The question remains: why did Luque decide to get into a kickboxing match with a kickboxing champion? Luque is a well-rounded fighter with nine wins by knockout and six by submission, but he never even attempted a takedown of Thompson. Not that Thompson is easy to take down but he is certainly harder to beat standing than in the clinch or on the mat. But Luque never even went away from his kickboxing.

No idea why, but it cost him a fight without a doubt. And now he'll have to work his way back up to a top-10 matchup.

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