Monday, October 3, 2022

Diaz Explains What He Disliked About UFC 279 Opponent Switch

Even though a late-notice opponent switch for UFC 279 ended up working out in his favor, Nate Diaz still had some concerns when he was informed of the change.

Diaz was scheduled to meet Khamzat Chimaev in a welterweight bout for the main event of UFC 279 in Las Vegas. “Borz” ended up missing the welterweight limit by 7.5 pounds the day before the fight, resulting in the UFC shuffling some fighters around to match Diaz up with Tony Ferguson as the card’s new main event.

The opponent switch was widely celebrated as being a more reasonable matchup for Diaz. The 37-year-old spent the majority of his career at lightweight and entered the night on a 2-fight losing streak, while Chimaev carried an undefeated record as well as experience fighting at middleweight.

Speaking with ESPN MMA’s Megan Olivi after the event, Diaz was asked about what kind of challenges Ferguson presented compared to Chimaev.

“[Tony Ferguson] had the pressure off him that he didn’t have to win,” Diaz said. “He wasn’t ready for the five-round fight, and then I had the pressure on. My main goal, especially with Khamzat, was to come out and not get any more cuts on my face. I’m done with that. I don’t want to be cut anymore. And it’s a new mission that I never had before in the past.”

Diaz Wanted To Avoid Getting Cut By Ferguson

Tony Ferguson’s Past Victims

Many fans were excited that Chimaev’s weigh-in mishap kept Diaz from participating in an apparent mismatch orchestrated by the UFC, but Ferguson also benefited from the event’s shakeup.

Although Ferguson has been considerably more active than Diaz the last few years, the former interim UFC lightweight champion entered the weekend on a four-fight losing streak. In an effort to try and change things up, Ferguson decided to return to welterweight and was scheduled to face Li Jingliang in the UFC 279 co-main event.

Many fans were thrilled to see the pair of longtime fan favorites meet in the Octagon, and although “El Cucuy” was submitted in the fourth round he did have some moments of success.

Ferguson’s leg kicks in particular did quite a bit of damage, although Diaz’s comments about the 38-year-old’s skillset indicate he probably preferred taking leg kicks over elbow strikes.

Diaz ended up catching Ferguson in a guillotine choke in the fourth round of the UFC 279 main event. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“And then they switch it to this guy, who’s probably most likely in the UFC to cut you. So I was like, alright, I have that pressure on me.”

Chimaev ended up submitting Kevin Holland in a 180-pound catchweight bout in the UFC 279 co-main event, while Ferguson’s original opponent Jingliang lost a split decision to Daniel Rodriguez.

How do you think Diaz’s plan of not getting cut would have worked out if he had faced Chimaev at UFC 279?

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