UFC 279 has undergone several changes. Let’s get up to speed!
Changes to UFC 279
Khamzat missed weight
The six fighters at the top of Saturday’s card are still there. But everyone has a new dance partner. After one of the most chaotic 48 hours we’ve ever witnessed leading up to a pay-per-view, which included a press conference cancellation due to a backstage brawl. And originally scheduled headliner Khamzat Chimaev missing weight by a whopping 7.5 pounds.
Nate Diaz to fight Tony Ferguson
Tony Ferguson will now face Nate Diaz in the main event in place of Chimaev. Ferguson was originally scheduled to face Li Jingliang in the co-main event. However, Li has been moved down to a catchweight fight against Daniel Rodriguez (despite the fact that Li weighed in for a 170-pound bout for his fight with Ferguson while Rodriguez stepped to the scale for a 180-pound catchweight affair), and Chimaev is now set to face Kevin Holland.
Other Changes on UFC 279
The promotion managed to come up with three logical pairings that are arguably more palatable than the regrettable Li-Ferguson matchup. And the seemingly pointless Chimaev-Diaz matchup despite taking the route of least resistance when putting together this pay-per-view lineup. Without learning how to fall upward, you can’t grow into the world’s most dominant combat sports organization. Without a doubt, that is what occurred here, and the UFC is fortunate that its fighters are willing to go through the hassle for it (and, hopefully, were handsomely compensated).
Be prepared for one more twist before the weekend is over because this is probably Diaz’s final fight week with the UFC.
UFC 279: Streaming Details
The UFC 279 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 10. The four-fight early prelims begin on ESPN+ at 6:00 p.m. ET, followed by the four-fight prelims on ESPNN and ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET. The five-fight main card begins at 10 p.m. ET and is available exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view.
Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson
We are grateful that the main event we deserved all along has finally been provided by the MMA Gods.
Forget rankings, winning streaks, title shots, and all that jazz. This fight is a fantasy matchup for many die-hard fans, and for good reason. Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson are fighters first and foremost, and it’s about time they shared the octagon.
However, once Diaz and Ferguson clash, it’s unlikely that there will be any handshakes and hugs involved. We can expect fireworks as these two will exert every effort to add one more headline-grabbing victory to their résumés. Ferguson hopes to find any kind of success to postpone the end of the road for at least one more fight, while Diaz wants to enter the next phase of his athletic life on a high note.
Based on their in-cage performances, Ferguson has always been the better fighter in my opinion, though “El Cucuy” is the ideal opponent for Diaz’s high volume attack.
Not to mention that at this point in their respective careers, Ferguson seems a little more shopworn. I vowed not to pick Ferguson to win another fight after his demoralizing defeat to Beneil Dariush, and I won’t change my mind now.
After overcoming a sluggish start, Diaz turns up the heat in the final three rounds, wins a decision, and rides off into the distance while raising his middle fingers.
Our Pick: Nate Diaz
Also Read: UFC Paris Card Now Finalised
Khamzat Chimaev (3) vs. Kevin Holland
Let’s not second-guess this choice too much: Khamzat Chimaev is an excellent wrestler. The wrestling defense of Kevin Holland is subpar. Chimaev will easily pass through him.
Chimaev put on a dominant performance against Holland after nearly ruining an entire pay-per-view with a truly egregious weight miss. Any sort of “heel heat” that Chimaev may have developed over the past week will be destroyed by anything less than a dominant performance, turning him into a fan favorite who they want to see eliminated. Playing the villain is one thing, but on fight night, you need to deliver or your act is worthless.
Holland, fortunately for Chimaev, is a perfect target for his menacing skill set. Holland’s best chance is to hold this one up, move around freely, and profit from Chimaev’s hostility. We’ve seen how inventive Holland can be with his striking, so we are confident that, should Chimaev make a mistake, he will be able to catch him. He could also defeat Chimaev in a fight, almost succeeding where Gilbert Burns almost failed. Holland also has two more rounds at his disposal than Burns did.
But once more, the right response is frequently the most obvious one. Chimaev knocks Holland to the ground, assaults him, and wins in the opening round.
Our Pick: Khamzat Chimaev
Li Jingliang vs. Daniel Rodriguez
For Li Jingliang, this week has been filled with missed opportunities.
Everything began so innocently, with Li’s purchase of a dapper suit being highlighted on Embedded. He was eager to debut his new gear at the press conference on Thursday, but his plans were dashed when the event was postponed due to the misbehavior of other fighters.
Then, through no fault of his own, he was defeated by Tony Ferguson in a strange fight that Li had eagerly anticipated. His former rival Khamzat Chimaev made a meal out of his weight loss, and all of a sudden Li and the other competitors had to clean up his messes. And as a result, Li was forced to fight 180-pound Daniel Rodriguez in a difficult contest instead of competing in the co-main event.
I really want to think that Li will be rewarded for being a good corporate citizen, but he has a tough matchup here. The prolific finishing abilities of “The Leech,” whose striking is constantly getting better, will keep Rodriguez on his toes. The issue is that I don’t see him taking Rodriguez out of the game. Li hasn’t had much success in fights that go past the second round, while Rodriguez excels at winning decisions.
Rodriguez will find his rhythm and outscore Li on the feet unless Li ends this one early. Li has an uphill battle, especially when you consider the 10-pound weight advantage.
Rodriguez, by decision.
Our Pick: Daniel Rodriguez
Irene Aldana (5) vs. Macy Chiasson (T10)
Irena Aldana, a definite contender who has struggled to keep fights together, is back! She missed out on a crucial fight with Aspen Ladd this past April after having a big fight with Germaine de Randamie at Madison Square Garden last year fall through, which probably would have established a top contender for the bantamweight title. The 135-pound division was also turned upside down (and back again) during this time.
So, if Aldana wins on Saturday, where does that put her and is she in jeopardy of losing her spot to Macy Chiasson?
Aldana is in a different league than Chiasson in terms of striking. Although the winner of the Ultimate Fighter 28 featherweight tournament has a lot of natural strength, it’s hard to imagine how Aldana could defeat her in a conventional boxing match. Aldana will dismantle Chiasson if she can avoid the clinch and keep her back off the cage. It’s harder said than done, but Chiasson must use her physicality to make Aldana uncomfortable.
Chiasson finds it challenging to close the experience gap in this case, so even though I believe Aldana will face a challenge from her, Aldana prevails with a resounding decision win.
Our Pick: Irene Aldana
A bout between eccentric light heavyweights Johnny Walker and Ion Cutelaba is buried beneath the plethora of perplexing headlines that have come to characterize this card. On recent episodes of On to the Next One, this was a popular listener choice, and for good reason. Walker and Cutelaba can be incredibly unpredictable and entertaining to watch when they are at their best.
Walker hasn’t exactly been at his best lately, which is a shame. For whatever reason, the formerly reckless Brazilian has turned out to be remarkably gun-shy, making him an easy target for the better competitors in the division. Although Cutelaba is inferior to fighters like Jamahal Hill, Thiago Santos, and Corey Anderson, he still poses a threat in his own right, particularly when it comes to grappling.
Catching Cutelaba early will be essential to Walker’s success because he still has the ability to finish quickly. If Cutelaba is unsuccessful in getting that early knockout, he will turn to grappling to take control of the fight. Simply put, I haven’t seen Walker use his back effectively enough to stop Cutelaba from launching a wrestling attack and scoring from top control. Walker will soon want out once Cutelaba begins throwing punches at him.
Our Pick: Ion Cutelaba