Nate Diaz claimed he didn’t ask for the fight that was originally supposed to headline UFC 279 in Las Vegas.
Thanks to a bizarre string of circumstances, Diaz doesn’t have to enter the ring for that fight anymore.
The UFC set a main event of rising superstar Khamzat Chimaev against longtime fan favorite Diaz, an old-school-style booking in which the promotion obviously hoped the newcomer would make the final jump to stardom off the name value of his veteran foe.
But at the end of an eventful week, Chimaev missed weight by 7.5 pounds Friday, September 9, causing the UFC to negotiate three new fights to keep a card together.
Now Diaz (21-13) will face another veteran fan favorite, Tony Ferguson (26-7), while Chimaev (11-0) will have a middleweight bout against Kevin Holland (23-7). Ironically, one day before the matchups were shaken up, Chimaev and Holland got into a scuffle backstage at the UFC 279 press conference, causing it to be canceled.
The third new fight will pit Daniel Rodriguez (16-2) against China’s Li Jingliang (19-7). The card originally promoted Rodriguez vs. Holland and Jingliang vs. Ferguson.
Chimaev, of Stockholm, Sweden, by way of Chechnya, has been on an incredible run in UFC, winning all five of his fights. The first four were sudden and authoritative finishes, and the fifth, at UFC 273, was a barnburner of a decision win over Gilbert Burns that will place high on the list for 2022 Fights of the Year.
Diaz, of Stockton, California, has been with UFC since 2007. And while he’s never held a title, he’s wildly popular for his willingness to take on all comers and engage in exciting fights, most memorably in a high-profile pair of bouts with Conor McGregor, during which each fighter won one apiece.
Diaz has dropped three of his past four and is entering the final fight of his UFC contract. After months of haggling with UFC over a potential foe, Diaz accepted Chimaev’s challenge.
“What they got me doing right now is they’re acting like I called for this fight, which I didn’t call for, and I don’t want, and didn’t want, and still don’t want, but I don’t give a (expletive),” Diaz told ESPN. “I’ll fight anybody.”
Now he’ll fight Ferguson, of Oxnard, California, who enters on a four-fight losing streak. – Rappler.com