Nothing about the UFC 279 main event was what it was supposed to be. Nothing, except for the fight between Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson, might have been the perfect swan song for the always-challenging Stockton, California native, as he ended his UFC contract with a fourth-round victory.
Ferguson exited the opening moments with a heavy leg attack. One of his first kicks in the fight resulted in his leg colliding with Diaz, instantly opening a wound on Ferguson’s shins that would continue to bleed for the rest of the fight. Those kicks continued to drop throughout the fight, leaving Diaz’s main leg bruised and swollen.
Despite taking heavy damage, Diaz continued to try to chase Ferguson, throwing combos and solid left hands when he was able to get close or bring Ferguson back to the cage.
Even with Diaz’s success, Ferguson continued to land with tough leg kicks. In the end, Diaz seemed frustrated by the incoming damage and began to wander outside the cage, shaking his head as the referee called him into the fight again.
Diaz will do just that, letting go of his hands more and tagging Ferguson with combos.
In the fourth round, Ferguson looked for a takedown, a move his corner had been asking for during the previous two rounds. This decision turned out to be a rollback for Ferguson as Diaz quickly closed in on a guillotine choke and pressed until Ferguson had to click at the 2:52 mark of the round.
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“A complete wrestling fight camp,” Diaz said after the fight, explaining his willingness to defend takedown attempts by strangulation. “I didn’t do any boxing. So, we made it happen.”
Diaz, who has confirmed that he will be looking for opportunities outside the octagon with his contract now complete, addressed Khamza Shemayev, the man he was supposed to face in the main event. Shemayev lost weight severely on Friday, forcing the UFC to mix three fights into three new ones.
“I was like, this is a cranky newbie,” Diaz said. “I’m not even worried about a newbie apprentice.”
The loss was Ferguson’s fifth in a row and the third time this has ended. The losing slip is a sharp contrast to the 12 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.
He was originally scheduled to face Li Jinliang in a three-round fight, which was Ferguson’s debut at welterweight, before changing to the five-round main event on Friday.
Diaz picked up his losing slip in two fights and said he’s now ready to take on another sport, possibly hinting at his desire to meet social media star Jake Paul in the boxing ring after Paul faced UFC legend Anderson Silva in October.
“All I know is that it’s been a love-hate relationship with the UFC for as long as I’ve been in that company,” Diaz said. “But I love the UFC. … I want to get out of the UFC for a minute and show all these UFC fighters how to take on and own another sport. How are you 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 out there, taking on another career and becoming the best at it. Show everyone I’m the best at it, and then I’m going to be right to come back for the UFC title. “
Elsewhere on the card, Diaz’s original opponent, Khameza Shemayev, reminded of his impending dominance with Kevin Holland’s surrender in the first round. Chimayev, who lost 7.5 pounds on Friday and caused a complete card overhaul, did not apologize in his post-match interview and still intends to fight for the welterweight title after that.
CBS Sports was with you all the way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from UFC 279 below.
UFC 279 card and results
- Nate Diaz def. Tony Ferguson via fourth round submission (guillotine choke)
- By sending the first round (D’Arce throttle)
- Daniel Rodriguez defeated. Li Jingliang via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Irene Aldana def. Missy Chiason via TKO of the third round (upkick)
- Johnnie Walker def. Ion Cutelaba via first round rendering (naked rear throttle)
- Julian Erosa def. Hakim Daudu unanimously (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Gilton Almeida was defeated. Anton Trikulj by submitting the first round (naked rear throttle)
- Dennis Tuolin Def. Jimmy Beckett via TKO in the second round (punches)
- via TKO 2nd round (punches)
- Norma Dumont dave. Daniel Wolfe by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
- An Engelian countryman. Chad Anhelliger by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Elise Red Dave. Melissa Martinez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Johan Linnes defeated. Darian Weeks via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
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