UFC 279: Ferguson vs. Diaz Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More
UFC 279 is already a pay-per-view unlike any other.
For the first time in history, the UFC had to cancel a fight-week press conference after an incident backstage that involved the teams of Khamzat Chimaev, Nate Diaz and Kevin Holland, per Marc Raimondi of ESPN.
Ironically, the three-way fracas quickly faded from the headlines when Chimaev weighed in at 178.5 pounds, well over the 170-pound limit for a welterweight bout. The botched weight cut resulted in a complete shakeup of the final three fights of the night.
Rather than fight Diaz, Chimaev will now see Holland in the co-main event. Holland was originally supposed to fight Tony Ferguson. Now, El Cucuy will take on Diaz in the finale.
Li Jingliang and Daniel Rodriguez will now fight each other after being scheduled against Ferguson and Holland, respectively.
It's a last-minute shakeup that may have actually created some more interesting matchups and saved the card when Chimaev's gaffe could have cost the organization much more.
Here's a look at the complete card and predictions for the night's biggest fights.
Fight Card, Schedule and Odds
Main Card (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
- Nate Diaz (+105; bet $100 to win $105) vs. Tony Ferguson (-125; bet $125 to win $100)
- Khamzat Chimaev (-560) vs. Kevin Holland (-+430)
- Li Jingliang (+125) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (-145)
- Irene Aldana (-175) vs. Macy Chiasson (+150)
- Ion Cutelaba (-205) vs. Johnny Walker (+175)
Prelims (ESPNews/ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
- Hakeem Dawodu (-210) vs. Julian Erosa (+180)
- Jailton Almeida (-600) vs. Anton Turkalj (+450)
- Jamie Pickett (-135) vs. Denis Tiuliulin (+115)
- Chris Barnett (+360) vs. Jake Collier (-450)
Early Prelims (ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET)
- Norma Dumont (-380) vs. Danyelle Wolf (+310)
- Alatengheili (-170) vs. Chad Anheliger (+145)
- Melissa Martinez (-175) vs. Elise Reed (+150)
- Yohan Lainesse (+105) vs. Darian Weeks (-115)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Nate Diaz Takes Advantage of New Matchup Against Tony Ferguson
The biggest winner of the wild short-notice fight-card shakeup is definitely Diaz. The Stockton fighter is in the last fight of his UFC contract and will now get a much better matchup against Ferguson.
It wasn't that long ago that Ferguson was the top contender in the lightweight division. A potential fight between Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov would have been the hottest ticket in the sport.
Then he lost an interim title fight to Justin Gaethje by unanimous decision, precipitating a four-fight losing streak.
Like many fighters who are down on their luck, Ferguson has decided to try his hand at a new weight class. The change in opponent helps him, too. Diaz has always been a more natural lightweight.
However, it's fair to wonder if he's just one of those fighters who has fallen off a cliff as he gets older. Diaz was competitive with Leon Edwards in his last fight. Meanwhile, Ferguson is fresh off a knockout loss to Michael Chandler.
Prediction: Diaz via third-round TKO
Khazmat Chimaev Routs Kevin Holland
When we look back at the winners and losers of this card, Chimaev will be considered a loser regardless. He had an opportunity to take on a well-known name in a main event to likely set up a title shot.
After the horrible weigh-in, he's been demoted to co-main event and his title shot chances are murky at best.
However, it's not likely to hurt him in the win-loss column. Kevin Holland is still a sizable longshot to upset the rising wrestler.
Chimaev is a takedown machine who will be ruthless in his attempts to get Holland to the ground and do some damage. Holland has been all too happy to let fighters take him down in the past.
It's a recipe for disaster, and a Hail Mary submission attempt seems to be Holland's only realistic path to victory. The only other option would be if Chimaev decides to stand and strike as Holland's kickboxing is good.
That would be a bad decision for Chimaev—then again, he hasn't made the best decisions this weekend.
Prediction: Chimaev via third-round TKO
Li Jingliang's Power is the Difference Against Daniel Rodriguez
Li Jingliang and Daniel Rodriguez are kind of getting the short end of the stick with the changes in the card. Jingliang was set to fight Ferguson, while Rodriguez was going to get Holland.
Essentially, both were fighting bigger names than themselves with a good chance to win. Now, they'll fight each other and one of them has to lose.
Rodriguez is a brawler who doesn't mind getting hit to dish out punishment of his own. He has solid boxing and is able to wear out opponents with his volume.
The problem with that approach against Jingliang is the power he brings to the table. He has good pop in his hands, and if this turns into a slugfest, he's the one with the advantage.
Prediction: Jingliang via second-round TKO
Gambling Problem? Call (877-8-HOPENY) or text HOPENY (467369).
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-877-770-STOP (7867) (LA), visit OPGR.org (OR), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA).
Odds and lines subject to change. 21+ (18+ NH/WY). AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/LA/MI/NH/NJ/NY/OR/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.