Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the pay-per-view (PPV) market later TONIGHT (Sat., Sept. 10, 2022) to stage UFC 279 from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the event will be a revamped Welterweight scrap between Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson after Khamzat Chimaev had a major scale fail. In the new co-headlining act, Chimaev will now face Kevin Holland at 180 pounds.
How To Watch/Stream UFC 279
Start Time (United States)
ESPN+ PPV main card: 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT start on ESPN+ (order it here).
- “Prelims” undercard (late): 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT start, streaming online via ESPN+ and simulcast on ESPNN.
- “Prelims” undercard (early): 6 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT start, streaming online via ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.
After another extended hiatus, Diaz will make his long-awaited return to action in what could mark the final time we get to see the Stockton slugger compete inside the Octagon. That’s because this will be the final fight of his current deal with the WME-owned mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, and the chances of him re-upping with Dana White and Co. aren’t looking too good based on the beef he’s had with the company for quite some time now. But, if Diaz wants to go out on a winning note, it won’t come easy because he is facing a hard-nosed foe in Ferguson, despite the short notice nature of the bout and “El Cucuy’s” recent slump.
Diaz’s record inside the Octagon is just 15-11, so it doesn’t exactly scream “winning.” That said, the scrappy slugger has always been must-watch because of his brash, “I don’t give a f—k” attitude that has made him — and his older brother, Nick Diaz — fan favorites for the past decade. Win or lose, Diaz brings it and leaves it all in the cage. And that’s the reason UFC has gone out of its way to pay him the big bucks, though it’s safe to see he’s always wanted more. A pair of high-profile, big-money fights against Conor McGregor only helped Diaz’s popularity (and bank account) skyrocket, even if he is just 1-3 over his last four fights. But, records aside, his losses have done little to hurt his reputation as one of the most entertaining fighters in the cage and on the mic, which has added to his aura. He’s never held a world title — losing to Ben Henderson is his lone title fight. Heck, he didn’t even win the made-up “BMF” title, a strap that means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. But, that very same “BMF” title is a tribute to the reach Diaz has because the promotion pretty much made it up just for him after he called out Jorge Masvidal. Diaz has always marched to the beat of his own
bong drum and will continue to do so. It’s what made him who he is today.
And after yesterday’s catastrophic turn of events that saw the promotion switch around three fights on 24 hour’s notice, including pairing up Diaz with Ferguson instead of “Borz,” the Stockton sluggers cred only increased. That’s right, the man who is fed up with all things UFC did the promotion a solid by salvaging the card and agreeing to the switch in opponents.
Did have a chance against Chimaev? The odds said no, but the same was said when he stepped in to face McGregor at UFC 196, only for him to pull off a great upset and set the wheels in motion to one of the best rivalries the promotion has ever seen. Now, he will be facing a man fight fans have been wanting him to go up against for some time now. And for many, this main event is better than the original. Ferguson has a chance to get back on track by sending Diaz out of UFC with a loss, all while getting some of his own mojo back. It’s a great fight between two long-time veterans who now get to finally face off against each other as a result of a string of events the likes of which we’ve never seen.
Chimaev’s stock grew after he took the MMA world by storm on “Fight Island” after winning two fights in dominant fashion in the span of 10 days. While many people still doubted him even after his 17-second knockout win over Gerald Meerschaert, and his one-sided beatdown of Li Jingliang, Chimaev really wowed the masses in his epic battle against a former title contender, Gilbert Burns, defeating “Durinho” after 25 minutes of hard-fought action. “Borz” had the chance to add another notch to his belt on his quest to fight for the title sooner, rather than later, by taking out Diaz, but now his road to the title has stalled as a result of his scale fail, even with a win over Kevin Holland.
This fight, while not the original bout, will take place at a catchweight of 180 pounds and, again, some are feeling this fight a bit more because Kevin Holland and Chimaev have built-in beef that boiled over during the pre-fight press conference that didn’t happen. Holland is starting to find his groove again after winning his previous fights against Alex Oliveira and Tim Means, both finishes. The mouthy-Welterweight now has the chance to score the biggest win of his career if he can derail the Smesh Express. For Chimaev, a dominant win over Holland will put him back in the good graces (even if just a little bit) of the promotion and the fans after causing the event to undergo a complete facelift.
Let’s keep it real, this card doesn’t exactly scream blockbuster. Sure, it features Diaz’s return, but it’s almost as if UFC went out of its way to make it as dreadful as possible for Nate’s potential final bout inside the Octagon, making it hard for most to cough up the $80 needed to watch this. But, if I am being 100 percent honest, all of the changes added a bit more intrigue to it.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Of course, the news all across the MMA world was the cancelation of Chimaev vs. Diaz and the reshuffling of fights as Diaz will now face Ferguson and Chimaev takes on Kevin Holland, who was supposed to face Daniel Rodriguez. Furthermore, Rodriguez will now take on Li Jingliang, who was supposed to Ferguson.
Aside from that mess, a Bantamweight title fight between current champion, Aljamain Sterling, and ex-title holder, T.J. Dillashaw, was in talks to take place on this card before matchmakers decided it was best to move it to UFC 280. Hannah Cifers pulled out of her scheduled fight against Melissa Martinez for undisclosed reasons and was ultimately replaced by Elise Reed, who is just 1-2 inside the Octagon.
Also, Jailton Almeida was set to face Shamil Abdurakhimov in Heavyweight action before Abdurakhimov was forced out of the event as a result of visa issues. UFC newcomer, Anton Turkalj, agreed to step in to take the fight on short notice, and it will now take place at a Catchweight of 220 pounds.
No injuries were reported for this event.
Melissa Martinez will make her UFC debut when she takes on Elise Reed in women’s Strawweight action. Undefeated (7-0), Martinez is coming out of the Combate Americas promotion, where she racked up six straight victories, four by way of knockout.
Turkalj will make his UFC debut to face Almeida in Middleweight action. Undefeated (8-0), Turkalj won his fight on Contender Series back in July via unanimous decision, ending his seven-fight finish streak. He will have a tough test in Almeida, who is on an 11-fight win streak and is perfect (2-0) inside the Octagon.
In a rare fight in the women’s Featherweight division, Danyelle Wolf will make her UFC debut as she is set to face Norma Dumont. Wolf was successful on Contender Series almost two years ago, but nothing has been seen or heard from her since after an injury spoiled her potential UFC debut last year. Now, the former professional boxer will look to make a splash in her UFC debut against a veteran who had her three-fight win streak snapped by Macy Chiasson via split decision.
How The Prelims Look:
Hakeem Dawodu has quietly won six of his last seven UFC fights, yet “Mean” can’t seem to get the love he wants. He will attempt to get another win under his belt when he faces Julian Erosa, who is riding a two-fight win streak into the event. “Juicy J” is 5-1 over his last six fights, so he has plenty of momentum going for him, as well.
Jamie Pickett’s run with UFC has been less than stellar. After three fights on Contender Series, Pickett finally managed to get himself a UFC contract, but he has gone a dreadful 2-3 and is coming off a loss to Kyle Daukaus. He will face off against Denis Tiuliulin, who is starving for his first UFC win after throwing up a dud in his debut against Aliaskhab Khizriev.
In the Heavyweight division, Chris Barnett will face Jake Collier, who has been inconsistently consistent during his time with the promotion. Since making his debut in 2014, he has alternated wins and losses to the tune of collecting a 5-6 record. That simply won’t cut it if he wants to climb the Heavyweight mountain. He has a chance to pull even with a win over Barnett, who has quickly become a fan favorite, despite being just 1-2 in his first three fights with the promotion. While fight fans love them some “Huggy Bear,” he needs to start collecting wins if he wants to hang around the Octagon for awhile.
In the men’s Bantamweight division, Alateng Heili will battle Chad Anheilger. Heili is 3-1-1 inside the Octagon while Anheileger is coming into the event scorching hot with 10 straight wins. Also, Darian Weeks will face off against Yohan Lainesse, who failed to impress in his UFC debut, coming up short against Gabriel Green earlier this year. Weeks, meanwhile, is winless so far inside the Octagon after dropping his first two fights against Bryan Barberena and Ian Garry.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Remember when Ferguson was on that ridiculous 12-fight win streak that spanned six years and had people screaming at the top of their lungs for “El Cucuy” to get a title shot? Yeah, it seems like so long ago. Yes, Ferguson did go on to win the interim Lightweight title, but went on to lose it to Justin Gaethje via brutal technical knockout at UFC 249. And to add salt to Ferguson’s wound, Gaethje went on to partake in a fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov … a fight Ferguson has been chasing for years and had booked five times only for every single one to get scrapped. Ferguson’s loss to Gaethje started a downward spiral for the ex-champ, the first loss of his current four-fight losing skid. Ferguson was last seen getting put to sleep by Michael Chandler at UFC 274 (see it again here), and if he loses to Diaz, he will have lost five straight fights. That said, he will likely earn a pass from getting cut for agreeing to switch opponents last-minute.
Interest Level: 7/10
It’s been a while since Johnny Walker last had his hand raised inside the Octagon, with his last victory coming in Sept. 2020 when he defeated Ryan Spann via third round knockout. Since then, the towering Brazilian has lost two straight fights against Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill, bringing his record to 1-4 in his last five fights. That’s a drastic difference from the blistering start to his UFC career, where he was talked about as a potential title contender to Jon Jones’ title after winning his first three fights inside the Octagon via first-round knockout. Coming into his fight against Ion Cutelaba, Walker has to be feeling the pressure to get a win or possibly face a pink slip. As for Cutelaba, he hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire himself as of late, going 2-4-1 over his last seven fights.
Irene Aldana is out to earn her second straight win when she faces off against Macy Chiasson in a women’s Bantamweight bout. After having her road to the title derailed by Holly Holm, Aldana is determined to get back in the mix, but the Mexican star has a stiff test in front of her as Chiasson is 3-1 in her last four fights. If Chiasson can get a win over Aldana, it will help her climb the Top 10 and get closer to a shot at the title. though she will still be a few wins away from the goal.
The other revamped fight is Daniel Rodriguez facing off Li Jingliang. Rodriguez has had a stellar run so far with UFC, winning three straight and going 6-1 overall. He is knocking on the door of a Top 15 ranking, and a win over Jingliang gets him one step closer. For Jingliang, who got back on the winning track by knocking out Muslim Salikhov, taking out Rodriguez will help him build some momentum and give him another big opportunity under UFC’s spotlight down the road.
So, while the event looks completely different than it did 24 hours ago, the drama may have helped add a few more PPV buys. All eyes will be on Diaz to see if he can go out on a winning note, or if Ferguson can revive his career. As for Chimaev, he has to do major damage control, while Holland is out to make things worse for the rising star.
UFC 279 PPV Main Event On ESPN+:
170 lbs.: Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson (not Khamzat Chimaev)
UFC 279 PPV Main Card On ESPN+:
179 lbs.: Khamzat Chimaev vs. Kevin Holland
170 lbs.: Jingliang Li vs. Daniel Rodriguez
140 lbs.: Irene Aldana vs. Macy Chiasson
205 lbs.: Johnny Walker vs. Ion Cuțelaba
UFC 279 Late ‘Prelims’ Under Card On ESPN+:
145 lbs.: Hakeem Dawodu vs. Julian Erosa
220 lbs.: Jailton Almeida vs. Anton Turkalj
185 lbs.: Jamie Pickett vs. Denis Tiuliulin
265 lbs.: Jake Collier vs. Chris Barnett
UFC 279 Early ‘Prelims’ Under Card On ESPN+:
145 lbs.: Danyelle Wolf vs. Norma Dumont
135 lbs.: Alateng Heili vs. Chad Anheilger
115 lbs.: Elise Reed vs. Melissa Martinez
170 lbs.: Darian Weeks vs. Yohan Lainesse
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 279 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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