It isn’t the fight that Nate Diaz wanted, but his last UFC fight will presumably be against Khamzat Chimaev on Saturday at UFC 279. After unsuccessfully pursuing Vicente Luque and failing to get an event with Dustin Poirier for the final fight of his career, he now finds himself as a massive underdog against Chimaev. A complete mismatch, and presumably by design, there is anticipation for the bout, but the co-main event between No. 14 Li Lingliang and No. 11 Tony Ferguson in the division may be the better contest. As a whole, the main card is relatively stacked too.
Intriguing young talents like Danyelle Wolf, Melissa Martinez, and Darian Weeks open up the early preliminary card to kick the evening off. Wolf, a world-class boxer, makes her anticipated UFC debut opposite the veteran Norma Dumont who looks to give her a strong welcome to the organization. Martinez is also making her debut for the UFC as another convert to MMA from kickboxing and aiming to do work in the women’s strawweight division. Though not making his debut Weeks is still looking for his first win in the organization, and will have the first fight of the night to do so.
Nate Diaz vs Khamzat Chimaev Main Event Preview
The relationship between Diaz and the UFC has felt strained for a while, and it has made parts of Fight Week feel almost uncomfortable. For his part, Diaz certainly plays things close to the edge with his “bad boy” Stockton attitude that has been great for attracting attention. He’s also backed it up a number of times, collecting career victories over Michael Johnson, Anthony Pettis, and Conor McGregor. Now, at the end of his contract, the end of the road seems to be here for Diaz, and UFC president Dana White isn’t doing him any solids on the way out.
In pairing Chimaev against Diaz for the last fight on his contract, the organization appears to be making an attempt to close the door on Diaz for good. A loser in his last two contests, it has been three years since he has tasted victory, and all signs point to him closing his career on a three-fight losing streak. Opening as a +700 underdog, if he flipped the script and collected a win, it would be quite the statement.
“But the pressure is on him,” Diaz told ESPN this week on his fight with Chimaev, “he’d better finish me. Because he’s the next killer in town, you know what I’m saying? The pressure’s on me because I better not get killed by the next killer, best in town – because they’re saying he’s the best in town. If I whoop his ass, they’re gonna say, ‘Oh, he wasn’t the best in town.’”
Ranked fourth in the welterweight division, Chimaev (11-0-0) has a perfect professional record and has won three of his first five UFC fights in the first round. Most recently, Chimaev made a statement of his own by collecting a three-round unanimous decision victory over Gilbert Burns at UFC 273 to climb into the division’s top five. Diaz has been talkative leading up to the bout, but Chimaev has now added to the madness, telling ESPN, “If he wants to fight [before Saturday]there with his team, I have like 20 guys with me… I would love it if it happens, something crazy things there.”
UFC 279 Fight Card and Odds
#3 Khamzat Chimaev (-1050) vs Nate Diaz (+700) – Welterweight
#14 Li Jingliang (-305) vs #11 Tony Ferguson (+255) – Welterweight
Kevin Holland (-195) vs Daniel Rodriguez (+165) – Catchweight