Nothing about the UFC 279 main event was as it was supposed to be. Nothing, that is, except for the fight between Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson serving as perhaps the perfect swan song for the always-defiant native of Stockton, California, as he closed out his UFC contract with a fourth-round submission victory.
Ferguson came out from the opening moments with a leg kick-heavy attack. One of the first kicks he threw in the fight led his shin to collide with Diaz’s, immediately opening a cut on Ferguson’s shin that would continue to bleed for the rest of the fight. Those kicks continued to land throughout the fight, leading Diaz’s lead leg to bruise and swell.
Despite taking heavy damage, Diaz continued trying to stalk Ferguson and throw combinations and hard left hands when he was able to close distance or get Ferguson’s back to the cage.
Even as Diaz had success, Ferguson continued landing hard leg kicks. Eventually, Diaz seemed frustrated by the incoming damage and he began to walk around the outside of the cage, shaking his head as the referee demanded he engage in the fight once more.
Diaz would do so, letting his hands go more and tagging Ferguson with combinations.
In the fourth round, Ferguson looked for a takedown, a move his corner had been asking for over the previous two rounds. That decision turned out to be Ferguson’s undoing as Diaz quickly locked in a guillotine choke and squeezed until Ferguson was forced to tap at the 2:52 mark of the round.
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“Full-blown wrestling fight camp,” Diaz said after the fight, explaining his readiness to defend takedown attempts with the choke. “I didn’t do no boxing. So, we made that happen.”
Diaz, who confirmed he would look to find opportunities outside the Octagon with his contract now fulfilled, then addressed Khamzat Chimaev, the man he was supposed to face in the main event. Chimaev badly missed weight on Friday, forcing the UFC to shuffle three fights into three new match-ups.
“I was like, this is such a bitch-ass rookie,” Diaz said. “I’m not even worried about a bitch-ass rookie.”
The loss was Ferguson’s fifth straight loss and the third time he’d been finished in that stretch. The losing skid is a sharp contrast from the 12-fight winning streak that preceded it and saw Ferguson become interim lightweight champion while establishing himself as one of the sport’s elite 155-pound fighters.
Originally set to face Li Jingliang in a three-round fight, which was Ferguson’s welterweight debut, he accepted the change to the five-round main event on Friday.
Diaz snapped his own two-fight losing skid and said he’s now ready to take over another sport, possibly hinting at a desire to meet social media star Jake Paul in the boxing ring after Paul battles UFC legend Anderson Silva in October.
“All I know is it’s been a love-hate relationship with UFC for as long as I’ve been in this f—ing company,” Diaz said. “But I love UFC. … I want to get out of the UFC for a minute and show all these UFC fighters how to take over and own up another sport. How you’re supposed to do it. Conor McGregor didn’t know how to do it. None of these other fighters know how to do it. I’m going to go out there, take over another profession and become the best at that. Show everybody I’m the best at that and then I’m going to be right the f— back to get a motherf—ing UFC title.”
Elsewhere on the card, Diaz’s original opponent, Khamzat Chimaev, reminded of his impending dominance with a first-round submission of Kevin Holland. Chimaev, who missed weight by 7.5 pounds on Friday and caused the entire overhaul to the card, was unapologetic in his post-fight interview and still intends on fighting for the welterweight title next.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 279 below.
UFC 279 card and results
- Nate Diaz def. Tony Ferguson via fourth-round submission (guillotine choke)
- Khamzat Chimaev def. Kevin Holland via first-round submission (D’Arce choke)
- Daniel Rodriguez def. Li Jingliang via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Irene Aldana def. Macy Chiasson via third-round TKO (upkick)
- Johnny Walker def. Ion Cutelaba via first-round submission (rear-naked choke)
- Julian Erosa def. Hakeem Dawodu via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jailton Almeida def. Anton Turkalj via first-round submission (rear-naked choke)
- Denis Tiuliulin def. Jamie Pickett via second-round TKO (punches)
- Chris Barnett def. Jake Collier via second-round TKO (punches)
- Norma Dumont def. Danyelle Wolf via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
- Alatengheili def. Chad Anheliger via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Elise Reed def. Melissa Martinez via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Yohan Lainesse def. Darian Weeks via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)