When Nate Diaz returned to the Octagon with a win over Anthony Pettis following an almost three-year absence, he blamed the current crop of fighters for his time off. “The reason I was off was because everybody sucked,” Diaz said. He then singled out Jorge Masvidal, who was sitting cageside, as a fellow “gangster” he’d like to meet in the cage. “That’s what I’m talking about, the baddest motherf—– title. I need that belt made as soon as possible.”
Thus, the “BMF” title was born. A Diaz post-fight concept turned physical belt to be awarded — by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, no less — to the winner of the UFC 244 main event between Diaz and Masvidal.
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The BMF ideal is about more than wins and losses. It’s an aesthetic. It’s a mindset. It’s a lifestyle. But, are Masvidal and Diaz the kings of the mythical BMF realm? The CBS Sports crew sat down to compile a list of who we feel are the top pound-for-pound BMFs in the UFC.
The rankings were compiled with input from Brent Brookhouse, Brian Campbell, Jack Crosby and Brandon Wise.
5. Robbie Lawler: When you think of a stone-cold killer in UFC, only one name truly comes to mind. With his largely emotionless personality, “Ruthless” has done nothing but embark on a savage run as a fighter while mostly saying what he will do. When asked in 2016 what would happen if he stepped in the cage with Conor McGregor, Lawler said in the simplest and most pointed words, “If I hurt him, I wouldn’t take his neck … [I’d take] his soul.” Lawler also engaged in one of the most hellacious wars in UFC history against RoryMacDonald in 2015 where he walked through the fire to score a fifth-round TKO and retain his welterweight title while suffering an incredibly gruesome cut on his mouth. — BW
4. Tony Ferguson: When it comes to being classified as a BMF, you should carry along a cool factor with your presence. Few fighters exude coolness and the violent ability to back it up in the cage more than “El Cucuy” Tony Ferguson. Victorious in his last 12 — TWELVE — UFC fights, Ferguson dazzles fans inside the Octagon by methodically brutalizing opponents with his well-rounded skills before putting things to bed. In the case of his last two fights against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Anthony Pettis, the beatings were so profound that Ferguson wasn’t afforded the choice to end the fight on his own terms, rather the decision was made for him via doctor and corner stoppages, respectively. The jaw-dropping win streak coupled with the devastation he’s left in his wake has led Ferguson to the cusp of an elusive lightweight title shot against undefeated 155-pound king Khabib Nurmagomedov. Should Ferguson pass the Khabib test when these two do finally meet in the cage and bring a similar sort of brutality as he’s done in the past, then it’ll be hard to argue he can’t even be No. 1 on this list. — JC
3. Jorge Masvidal: It doesn’t get much more badass than the man who coined the phrase “three piece and a soda” after getting into a scuffle backstage with Leon Edwards. Masvidal’s history in the Octagon may not have come with the accolades of being a world champion, but “Gamebred” has proved time and again that he is about that life. Whether it was fighting in the backyards of Miami with his bare fists or sending Ben Askren to hell in five seconds with a flying knee, Masvidal’s reputation proceeds him every time he fights. As he would say, it’s “super necessary.” — BW
2. Nate Diaz: The originator of BMF had to rank high on the list. Diaz will sit on the sidelines for years out of principle. That principle: “be real.” Be real inside the cage and be real running your mouth outside of it. Diaz will piece you up on the feet, flip you the bird and flex while he has you locked in a choke and say something simple — but very cutting — after his hand is raised. Diaz is a marijuana-advocating, vegan-dieting, ass kicking, once-in-a-lifetime (with the exception of his brother) personality who defined this BMF thing. — BB
1. Justin Gaethje: When Michael Johnson took shots at Gaethje ahead of their wild July 2017 clash, Gaethje said, “This is not a game to me. Everything you’ve said, I’ve taken personal. It doesn’t affect me emotionally. I wanted to kill him when the fight got announced and I want to kill him now. No more, no less. It’s life or death for me every single time I step in the cage.” He then knocked Johnson out. Just like he’s knocked out 18 men in 21 career wins. Gaethje has seven post-fight bonuses in his time in the UFC, four Fight of the Night bonuses and three Performances of the Night. He has six UFC fights. A stone-cold killer attitude and more bonuses than fights? That’s BMF elite. — BB
Others receiving votes: Stipe Miocic, Donald Cerrone, Israel Adesanya, Jon Jones, Francis Ngannou