UFC 279’s fight week will go down in history as one of the most crazy in the history of the sport after an unprecedented series of events that has culminated in multiple pay-per-view main card fighters swapping opponents just 24 hours before fight night in Las Vegas.
That’s right, your new UFC 279 fight card line-up now proceeds with a five round fight between Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson in the main event, another fiver-rounder that sees Khamzat Chimaev dropping down to co-main event status against Kevin Holland and the remaining pair of Li Jingliang and Daniel Rodriguez also going head-to-head in the third PPV fight.
It’s the result of a bizarre sequence of events that began with yesterday’s UFC 279 pre-fight press conference being scrapped just minutes after it started due to multiple backstage altercations, beginning with Khamzat Chimaev push-kicking Kevin Holland in the chest.
That incident now has even more relevance in the wake of another day of high drama on Friday after Khamzat Chimaev weighed in at 178.5lbs for his welterweight main event with Nate Diaz, a whopping 7.5lbs over the limit.
It’s since been claimed that a medical issue had prevented Chimaev from making weight, but whatever the reason, it immediately put the whole event in jeopardy as former lightweight Diaz was already considered undersized in this match-up even before his opponent’s massive weight miss, and as such it seemed highly unlikely he would still agree to fight him.
Then the rumors began the the UFC was scrambling behind the scenes to come up with alternative solutions to keep the card from collapsing on the eve of the event, which has ultimately resulted in the stars of the top three fights on the card swapping opponents.
In the end it’s Chimaev’s weight miss that makes the scenario feasible as Kevin Holland was already scheduled for a 180lb match-up against Daniel Rodriguez on the main card, which matches up well with the 178.5lbs that ‘Borz’ eventually came in at.
Given their physical confrontation a day earlier this provides a perfect opportunity for them to settle their differences inside the Octagon, though it admittedly seems like a bad stylistic match-up for Holland, who had well documented struggles dealing with wrestlers at 185lbs that led to him dropping down to 170lbs, and now finds himself back up at 180lbs competing against one of the most dominant wrestlers in the sport on a day’s notice.
Meanwhile, Nate Diaz weighed in at 171bs and Tony Ferguson also came in at the same weight for his co-main event match-up with Li Jingliang.
So now Ferguson gets promoted to main event status to fight Diaz, and it’s a fight that feels much more suited to both fighters as they are at a similar stage in their careers, being two former long-time lightweight veterans who are currently on a losing streak at a relatively late stage in their careers.
Unfortunately the math doesn’t work out so well for the remaining two fighters as Li Jingliang, weighed in at 170.5lbs and Daniel Rodriguez came in at 179lbs. That’s essentially the same difference that led to the main event being reconfigured, but in this instance Jingliang has boldly agreed to fight despite an 8.5lb weight difference between the two.
And so UFC 279 proceeds with a card that is fundamentally flawed due to the extremely short notice nature of the match-ups, yet in some respects actually sounds better than the one that was originally scheduled, and with a hell of a story behind it that will become a part of UFC folklore.