Busy Friday produced a brand new fight card for UFC 279 on Saturday night.
The event, scheduled to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, will see rising welterweight Khamzat Chimaev take on Nate Diaz in what many see as the It was his last fight with the cut. Instead, Chimayev lost a staggering 7.5 pounds and set off an epic chain reaction.
Now, Diaz will take on veteran Tony Ferguson in a five-round Main Event. Believe it should have been booked. Ferguson will take on rising welterweight contender Li Jingliang, who will now take on Daniel Rodriguez at 180 pounds in three rounds. Rodriguez was originally expected to face off against Kevin Holland, who will now take on Chimayev in a five-round co-op.
“Nate Diaz and Tony, the fans have been wanting to see this,” UFC president Dana White said after the reshuffle. “This will happen before Nate leaves the UFC. It couldn’t have been better.”
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Chimaev and Holland reportedly skirmished on Thursday, forcing White to cancel the news while exchanging punches press conference.
So a lot has happened on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full battle card and the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before getting to know our staff predictions and picks for the Celebrations PPV section.
UFC 279 Fight Card, Odds
Odds from Caesars Sportsbook
- Tony Ferguson-130 vs Nate Diaz +110, Welterweight
- Khamzat Chimaev -550 vs. Kevin Holland +400, 180lb Heavyweight
- Daniel Rodriguez -160 vs. Li Jingliang +135, 180lb
Erin Aldana -175 vs. Messi Chiasson +150, Women’s Bantamweight
Ion Cutelaba -220 vs. Johnny Walker +180, light heavyweight Hakeem Dawodu -230 vs. Julian Erosa + 190, Lightweight
Jailton Almeida -700 vs. Anton Turkalj +500, light heavyweight
|Chimaev vs. Holland|
Diaz vs. Ferguson
Campbell: Talk about ok karma. The MMA gods are sure to smile as Diaz enters the final bout of his 15-year UFC career. Opponents switching from undefeated Chimayev to four-game losing streak Ferguson and desperately seeking refuge in the new 170-pound weight class dramatically changed the expected outcome. While the 38-year-old Ferguson remains dangerous, his jaw and resilience have been called into question in recent games. This new Main Event is one that Diaz can and should win, even if he has to overcome a fair amount of danger to get there.
Mahjouri: The Diaz vs. Ferguson fight was much closer than their initial match against Khamzat Chimaev and Li Jingliang respectively. It’s the perfect battle between two seasoned forwards with a super-smooth submission game. Ferguson’s wrestling could have made the difference, but I hope these two can stand up and trade. Diaz’s persistence and enthusiasm for the new fight could put him on edge. War Diaz.
Wise: This line opens about -170 for Ferguson and goes all the way down to close to picking ‘um. That feels right given the last-minute nature of the fight between the older fighters, who have been without a win since 2019. Ferguson’s jaw has been questioned in his latest bouts but these are against the elite of the elite at 155 lbs. While he really doesn’t look the same anymore I’m on the veteran’s side, he Still seems more dynamic at this stage of his career. Diaz has certainly not looked good outside of one-punch flashes since his 2016 series with Conor McGregor. There’s a reason it opens with Ferguson’s favorite.
Chimaev vs. Holland
Mahjouri: I picked Justin Gaethje to beat Charles Oliveira based on Oliveira’s weight error. I won’t make that mistake again. Chimayev is usually a big favourite against the Netherlands. His wrestling style is Dutch kryptonite, as demonstrated by the Dutch losses to Derek Brunson and Marvin Vittori. The Dutch fighting game has improved significantly, but I doubt he has closed the gap with Chimaev. Despite being underweight, Chimayev prepared for five rounds while Holland did not. Submit to me by Chimaev before the final bell.
Brookhouse: The stupidity and confusion of the whole situation started because of one thing: for whatever reason, Chimaev was severely weightless. We’ve heard it’s a medical issue, and maybe it’s true, and that would be a reason to lean towards the Netherlands to get out of the way. In reality, however, nothing suggests that Chimaev is at his best. Medical issues, lack of concentration, bad alignment, etc. is just a big red flag. Holland has been bullied before, but those fights were mostly middleweight. Now back at welterweight, he’s a big guy who does a lot of embarrassing things. Chimayev should definitely win, but the chances of an upset are very high right now and I think Holland are the kind of people who can make the most of the situation.
Wise: It is impossible to know Chimaev’s physical and mental state. Despite having lost so much weight, he looks fine on the scale and doesn’t seem to care as he continues to make jokes online and anger fans during the ritual weigh-in. But most importantly, aside from injuries we don’t know about, his best skills are what Holland is most difficult to deal with. Chimaev was expected to explode in Holland’s lap before splitting him on the ground before the referee was forced to stop the game.
Jing Liang vs Rodriguez
Campbell: After 13 months out with a hand injury, Rodriguez finally has a chance to extend his recent three-game winning streak. Switching to Jing Liang’s opponent gave “D-Rod” a matchup that was as difficult as Kevin Hollander, especially considering Lee’s fight-ending abilities. But Rodriguez, who is 12-1 since 2017, has an amazing ability to time the leech and cause a lot of trouble on his feet. The 35-year-old Rodriguez’s chances of jumping into the top 10 with victory remain. Expect him to seize the moment in a fight that almost guarantees fireworks.
Brookhouse: Actually, Rodriguez’s match with Jing Liang was kind of like a pick them. Jing Liang is likely to lose the first round here. Picks depend on slowly building momentum, which is a staple of Jing Liang’s game. Rodriguez needs to be able to do a lot of work early on before Jing Liang starts to take over. Expect Jingliang to win 29-28, possibly in a split decision.
Who won Diaz or Ferguson? How exactly does each battle end? Visit SportsLine today to learn more about every fight at UFC 279, all from the unrivaled experts who have made over $13,000 in MMA over the past three years, and find out.