Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal boxing match reportedly set for March, will anyone care?

Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz are due to rematch, but not in the UFC (not even in MMA!)

Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal to run it back

Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal have reportedly thrown their hats into the ring to make the first quarter of 2024 even more stacked with fights competing for our attention. According to Happy Punch, a leading information source on the crossover boxing side of the fence, the two UFC veterans have agreed to box each other in Vegas in March.

Host of The MMA Hour Ariel Helwani raced to join the conversation (in order to put himself in the conversation), stating more or less what Happy Punch reported and then adding that a representative for Nate Diaz would not confirm details about the fight (to him, at least).

Diaz and Masvidal, of course, know each other very well. The pair fought at UFC 244 for the silly BMF title. That 2019 fight ended due to a nasty cut over Diaz’s eye, leading to an official decision of TKO (doctor’s stoppage).
November 3, 2019, New York, NEW YORK, ESTADOS UNIDOS: Jorge Masvidal (Red) and Nate Diaz (Blue) during UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday, November 02 UFC 244 in New York - ZUMAc233 20191103_zsp_c233_032 There will be no kicking, or grappling, or anything else fun when these two fight in March. | Vanessa Carvalho / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO
If Diaz vs. Masvidal goes ahead for March it will be competing for eye-balls around the time of UFC 299 (which is stacked), Francis Ngannou vs. Anthony Joshua and Jake Paul vs. TBA. Around that time folks will also be saving their vacation days and PPV buying dollars for UFC 300 in April.

Will people care about this?

Given all the marque events scheduled for March, Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal faces an uphill battle to stand out as a must-see attraction. But that’s not the only thing working against it.

Diaz and Masvidal enjoyed large fanbases during their runs in the UFC and both sold a decent number of pay-per-views. But that was MMA and it was MMA fans paying attention (and dollars). Now, with a combined age of 77, and coming off dull and depressing losses, are their old fans going to show up for this?
Boxing: Jake Paul vs Nate Diaz Aug 5, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Jake Paul (left) fights against Nate Diaz in a boxing match at American Airlines Center. Dallas American Airlines Center Texas USA, EDITORIAL USE ONLY PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY 20230805_krj_aj6_0047Nate Diaz didn’t look great versus Jake Paul. | Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Network, IMAGO
The fact Happy Punch got the exclusive on this fight coming together suggests that this event will be tailored more for the cross-over crowd than serious (and frankly sometimes over serious) combat sports enthusiasts. If that’s the case, Diaz has some cache from his appearance opposite Jake Paul (and his brawl on Bourbon Street), but Masvidal is an unknown quantity there.

I’m struggling to see how this bout commands an audience from either the combat sports or social media crowd. And, based on Diaz’s lacklustre attempts to sell his most recent boxing match, I don’t think he and Masvidal are going to convince many of us to really care about this.

My prediction is this pair, who have been robbed of promotional savvy by being babied by a UFC machine that obstructs fighters from having agency in their careers, wind up delivering something that is over-priced, under-produced and, as a result, largely over-looked.

Both men do still have enough verve and renown to make a few more big paydays in the ring, but there’s way better options out there than each other.

Having broken the ice with crossover fans, Diaz should be trying to get in with Misfits Boxing and their rotation of fighters. Diaz vs. Tommy Fury, KSI or Logan Paul would do enormous numbers (believe me, I’m responsible for planning event coverage here and I see how Misfits rakes in the traffic).

For Masvidal, his best option is painfully obvious. He needs to fight Jake Paul.

When Paul was training to fight Ben Askren, back when crossover boxing felt like a flash in the pan and not one of the dominant forces in sports entertainment, he spent time with Masvidal. At first it seemed like there was a budding bromance there.

But that soured and in the years that followed, both Paul and Masvidal took turns calling each other out. Masvidal went as far as to offer Paul a modified MMA bout (despite the fact the UFC would never deviate from its norm).

So the storyline for Paul vs. Masvidal has already been written. And it’s a lot better than, “these guys fought once and it ended because of a cut”.

Masvidal is a great opponent for Paul, too. A washed welterweight, who has never boxed before. He loves those guys.

Despite all the sense those above match-ups make, we’re going to see a tepid boxing bout this spring between two 40 year-old MMA fighters. I’m sure they will do an OK job talking up the fight, but it’s going to be boring to watch, end in a draw and give both guy a higher mountain to climb when it comes to getting folks excited about their next fights.

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