UFC 279 was originally supposed to be headlined by a welterweight matchup between Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz. “Borz” threw those plans and the entire card into jeopardy when he stepped onto the scale for weigh-ins and was 7.5 pounds over the welterweight limit.
After several hours of speculation, the UFC finally decided to shuffle the matchups on the event’s top 3 fights in order to salvage the card.
Nate Diaz ended up facing Tony Ferguson in the night’s main event, while Ferguson’s previous opponent Li Jingliang agreed to face Daniel Rodriguez at a 180-pound catchweight bout. Kevin Holland had been preparing to face Rodriguez and subsequently met Chimaev in the evening’s co-main event.
For many fans, the new-look card actually had more appealing matchups than the originally scheduled bouts. It’s no secret that a number of MMA fans love a good conspriacy theory, and the UFC 279 drama led to rampant speculation online that the entire thing had been orchestrated by the UFC.
White Dismisses UFC 279 Conspiracy Theorists
Although he wasn’t asked about it directly at the event’s post-fight press conference, Dana White used a question about Chimaev’s weight cut to bring up the subject of conspiracy theories himself.
“We knew he was gonna miss weight,” White said about the weigh-in drama. “The doctors went up to see him. When the doctor goes up and the doctor calls the fight off – if you’re dancing around the question that there was some conspiracy theory…”
The UFC president was quickly reassured that was not the implication of the question, although White was smiling during his response and appeared to be addressing the subject in good humor.
“Okay, cause there’s some fucking lunatics on the internet that think this was all staged and planned and whatever. If you think (PAUSE) that the crazy dudes that we had here this week could be orchestrated into something that would be – you’re literally out of your mind. This all happened, and we had to deal with it. And I just couldn’t wait to get tonight over with.”
Although the circumstances leading to the reshaped card may have caused White and the UFC considerable stress, the event itself ended up going off quite successfully.
The main card featured finishes in every bout aside from Rodriguez vs. Jingliang, including Chimaev quickly dispatching Kevin Holland and Diaz snagging a fourth-round guillotine choke against Ferguson in the main event.
What do you think of White’s response to conspiracy theorists that believe Chimaev’s weight issues and the resulting changes to UFC 279 were planned by the UFC?