Chris Barnett and Jake Collier’s slugfest lit up the UFC 279 crowd. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Nate Diaz will make his final appearance in an octagon against former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson after an epic UFC career at UFC 279’s main event in Las Vegas on Saturday. The two fan favorites eventually face off in a welterweight bout after an unprecedented turn of events rocked the main card.
Diaz began his UFC career in 2007 with The Ultimate Fighter and has a professional MMA record of 20-13, with 11 of those wins coming by submission. His biggest win to date was a short-term submission win in 2016 over Conor McGregor, who had back-to-back title wins for the featherweight and then lightweight championship belts. Choking the UFC’s first simultaneous doubles champion catapulted the Stockton, California fighter to stardom. He lost the rematch to McGregor later that year and a trilogy fight has since been talked about but never materialised.
Since losing the majority decision to McGregor, Diaz has only fought three times: a win over Anthony Pettis and a TKO loss to Jorge Masvidal in 2019, then a unanimous decision loss to Leon Edwards in June 2021.
[UFC 279 result: Chris Barnett’s epic comeback, in-cage interview delights fans]
Ferguson, who first fought for the UFC in 2011, was scheduled to face Li Jingliang on Saturday in his first fight since a devastating KO loss to Michael Chandler in May. But after Khamzat Chimaev weighed 7.5 pounds for his scheduled fight against Diaz on the card, Ferguson was offered and accepted the main event slot against Diaz.
Though Ferguson is on a four-fight losing streak, losses went to Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush and Chandler — all real cleats of the UFC’s stacked lightweight division. Before the losses began to pile up, Ferguson went on an incredible 12-fight winning streak that saw him win the interim lightweight title, but he never fought for the undisputed title.
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Chimaev’s weight issue cost him the main event spotlight against Diaz, but no place on the card as he now faces Kevin Holland in the co-main event catchweight bout. The two were involved in a backstage altercation at Wednesday’s press conference, so the fight makes sense.
The story goes on
Also on the main card, Jingliang will now fight Daniel Rodriguez, who was originally set to face Holland. Irene Aldana and Macy Chiasson meet in a catchweight bout at 140 pounds and light heavyweights Johnny Walker and Ion Cutelaba open the pay-per-view.
Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole is caged for the show at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, so make sure to follow our live tracker below for the latest updates and analysis.
UFC 279 live scores, highlights, analysis
UFC 279 Main Card Odds, Results, Highlights (Start Time 10pm ET, ESPN + PPV)
All odds via BetMGM.
Welterweight: Nate Diaz +130 vs. Tony Ferguson -155
Catchweight (180lbs): Khamzat Chimaev -600 vs. Kevin Holland +425
Catch weight (180 lbs): Li Jingliang +135 vs. Daniel Rodriguez -165
Catch Weight (140 lbs): Irene Aldana -170 vs. Macy Chiasson +140
Light Heavyweight: Johnny Walker +170 vs. Ion Cuțelaba -210
UFC 279 Prelims Odds, Results, Highlights (Live Now on ESPNEWS/ESPN+)
Catch weight (149.5 lbs): Hakeem Dawodu -215 vs. Julian Erosa +175
Catch weight (220 lbs): Jailton Almeida def. Anton Turkalj via submission (rear naked choke).
Middleweight: Denis Tiuliulin def. Jamie Pickett by TKO at 4:52 by R2
Catch Weight (267.5 lbs): Chris Barnett def. Jake Collier by TKO at 2:24 by R2:
UFC 279 Early Prelims full results
Featherweight women: Norma Dumont -def. Danyelle Wolf by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Bantamweight: Alateng Heili defeated. Chad Anheliger by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Women’s Strawweight: Elise Reed def. Melissa Martinez by unanimous decision (29-28, 28-28, 29-28)
Welterweight: Yohan Lainesse def. Darian Weeks by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Nate Diaz will now face Tony Ferguson at UFC 279 in the final fight of his UFC contract. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)