UFC 244 predictions: Who do we think the ‘BMF’ will be, Jorge Masvidal or Nate Diaz?

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The UFC is back in the “Big Apple” this week for a blockbuster pay-per-view, albeit one with a non-traditional title on the line.

UFC 244 takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN2 and early prelims on ESPN2/ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, Jorge Masvidal (34-13 MMA, 11-6 UFC) takes on Nate Diaz (20-11 MMA, 15-9 UFC) in a welterweight fight that goes beyond mere contender implications. The winner will be crowned the UFC’s “BMF” – “Baddest Mother(Expletive)” – and will have a custom-made belt wrapped around his wiast by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The oddsmakers have made Masvidal the favorite, and he’s the pick for nine of our 13 MMA Junkie editors, writers, radio hosts and videographers.

In the co-main event, Kelvin Gastelum (16-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) welcomes Darren Till (17-2-1 MMA, 5-2-1 UFC) to the middleweight division. Gastelum is a 2-1 favorite, and he has a whopping 11-2 lead in the picks.

Also on the main card, Vicente Luque (17-6-1 MMA, 10-2 UFC) takes on two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson (14-4-1 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC). “Wonderboy” is just a slight favorite against Luque in the fight, but it’s Luque with the smallest possible edge in the picks at 7-6.

In other statistical oddity, even though Derrick Lewis (21-7 MMA, 12-5 UFC) is a slight underdog against Blagoy Ivanov (18-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) in their heavyweight fight, only one of our pickers is taking the favorite to win. It’s Lewis with the biggest advantage on the main card at 12-1.

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And to open the main card, Gregor Gillespie (13-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) will put his unbeaten record on the line against Kevin Lee (17-5 MMA, 10-5 UFC) in a lightweight fight. Gillespie is the betting favorite, and he’s got a big 9-4 lead in the picks.

In the MMA Junkie reader consensus picks, Diaz (62%), Gastelum (69 percent), Thompson (69 percent), Lewis (79 percent) and Gillespie (66 percent) are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

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