It’s been a wild day for the UFC, and that includes its president Dana White.
The UFC 279 pay-per-view, which is set to go down on Saturday night in Las Vegas, had a major shake-up that left the card with three new matchups. On Friday morning, Khamzat Chimaev missed weight by 7.5 pounds for his highly anticipated bout against Nate Diaz in the main of the card, and that forced the UFC to reshuffle the deck.
Now, after hectic negotiations with six fighters, the UFC landed with the following bouts: Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson, Chimaev vs. Kevin Holland, and Li Jingliang vs. Daniel Rodriguez.
“It’s been a hell of a night and a hell of a morning,” White said on Friday evening on ESPN SportsCenter’s Instagram account. “It’s not by coincidence that we stack guys the same weight on the same card in case anything goes wrong, but yeah, it worked out.
“Nate Diaz and Tony, like you said, the fans have wanted to see this one forever,” White said. “It’s gonna happen now before Nate leaves the UFC.
“Yesterday, there were a lot of questions about what happened. Kevin Holland and Khamzat Chimaev actually got into it yesterday backstage. Ironically, they will now fight on Saturday night, and ‘Leech’ vs. Rodriguez is also a fun fight. So, it literally couldn’t have played out any better.”
What’s at stake for UFC 279 headliners Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson?
Nate Diaz is on a two-fight losing streak and has won just one of his last four fights. However, Diaz’s fellow UFC fan-favorite and veteran MMA fighter Tony Ferguson is on a four-fight losing streak. Furthermore, UFC 279 marks Ferguson’s return to the welterweight division after spending several years at lightweight.
The consensus is that Diaz will depart the organization after UFC 279. The Ferguson matchup is the final fight on Diaz’s UFC contract. Diaz is expected to foray into boxing next. Needless to say, a loss would severely dent the outgoing Diaz’s brand value. For Ferguson, a win at UFC 279 is crucial, or else he’ll have lost five consecutive fights and could possibly face relentless calls to retire.