When the UFC 279 main event was announced, pitting promotional veteran Diaz against rising welterweight brute Chimaev in what will likely be the Stockton native’s final Octagon appearance, opinion was split.
While some have suggested that the matchup is closer than most are expecting, even backing Diaz to pull another memorable upset out the bag, others have branded it an attempt to send Diaz out of the promotion off the back of a devastating loss to an undefeated top-five contender.
Two men who firmly fall on the latter side of that debate are Hardy and Edwards.
“The Outlaw,” who’s had his own experience when it comes to a fairly bitter exit from the UFC, branded the promotion’s decision to place Diaz opposite Chimaev an “assassination attempt,” and something that he feels will be an extremely bad look for the Dana White-led organization.
“It feels like we’re getting to the point where someone should start thinking about pressing charges,” Hardy told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “It doesn’t feel like a fair fight. It feels like a very, very cruel thing to do to someone that is a legitimate legend. Because they’ve spoken out against the organization, they’re going to get executed live on TV. That’s kind of how it feels.
“It makes me feel uncomfortable to think that’s the way it’s going to go down…. I think it’s going to be uncomfortable to watch, and I think it’s going to leave the UFC in a very, very bad light… It’s just a shame that they’re going to do this assassination attempt on him before he leaves.” (h/t MMA Fighting)
While Edwards, who’s set to challenge for gold next month at UFC 278, gave his take in a more toned-down fashion, the Englishman still shared the sentiment that Diaz deserved a better-matched opponent for his farewell fight.
“He’s done so much for the company and I wish they gave him a veteran, a nice fight to bow out to,” Edwards said. “To give an up-and-coming guy that’s had four or five fights in the UFC, and a wrestler guy as well – I think they f*cked up. They should’ve gave him a better fight.” (h/t MMA Junkie)
Now, the UFC president has heard their comments and sent a solution — ‘Don’t watch.’
White Tells Hardy & Edwards: ‘Don’t Like It? Don’t Watch’
During a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole, Dana White was asked about the negative reaction many have given to the Diaz vs. Chimaev headliner, and specifically the words of Hardy and Edwards.
After noting that neither Brit has dealt with Diaz behind closed doors, White reiterated that the UFC 279 main event is a fight that people want to see. And having concluded that “The Outlaw” and “Rocky” don’t have an appetite for the bout, the UFC president advised them to head to the cinema instead.
“I love when fighters or other people or anybody else gives us advice on this incredibly successful business that we’ve built,” White said sarcastically. “It cracks me up. So, I’m looking at Francis Ngannou or Khamzat Chimaev, and a couple other ones that were not good, either. I’m gonna take Khamzat.
“I can tell you this, Leon Edwards, Dan Hardy, and anybody else out there yapping has never dealt with the Diaz brothers, okay? It’s a very unique experience; takes a very f*cking long time,” White added whilst laughing. “We got through it and here we are. It’s a very popular fight that people are gonna wanna see; that people like. Dan Hardy and Leon Edwards don’t have to watch it. They can go to the movies that night.”
Chimaev has rapidly surged into the welterweight top five with a dominant victory over Li Jingliang and hard-fought decision win against Gilbert Burns. If the Chechen-born Swede has his way on September 10, he’ll deliver a performance that leaves the likes of Hardy and Edwards witnessing the exact Diaz departure that they fear.
Who do you agree with, Dana White or Dan Hardy and Leon Edwards?