Nate Diaz exited the UFC with a submission win on Saturday, defeating fellow fan favorite Tony Ferguson in the final fight of his UFC contract.
Diaz was scheduled to face the UFC’s fastest-rising star, Khamzat Chimaev, in the main event of UFC 279, but Chimaev weighed 7.5 kilograms over the welterweight limit, causing the card to be drastically altered.
American Diaz eventually faced fellow countryman Ferguson, who was originally scheduled to face Li Jingliang. The Chinese instead fought Daniel Rodriguez, whose original opponent Kevin Holland faced Chimaev.
Diaz and Tsymaev emerged victorious from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, with Diaz, 37, forcing Ferguson, 38, into a fourth-round guillotine after Tsymaev had submitted Holland with a D. “Arce choke in the co-main event.
Diaz and Ferguson’s feud was sloppy at times, pitting two aging icons against each other. Diaz has fought just four times in the past six years, winning two and losing two, and has long expressed a desire to leave the UFC – which he is now free to do. Meanwhile, former interim lightweight champion Ferguson has now lost five fights in a row, three of those losses coming by way of finish.
While the majority of the main event was contested on the feet, Ferguson attempted a two-leg takedown in the fourth round and was promptly guillotine-caught by Diaz when the pair hit the canvas. Ferguson soon extended his losing streak, while Diaz returned to the winning column 14 months after his last outing – a decision loss to now welterweight champion Leon Edwards.
“I outworked everybody for pay, I outworked everybody to survive,” Diaz reflected on his UFC career in his post-fight interview.
“I want to go [of] the UFC for a minute and show all these other fighters how to get another sport. Then I’m going to come right back here to get a mother*****g UFC title.”
Chimaev, meanwhile, took Holland down with ease within seconds of the start of their match at catchweight, and although Holland was able to stand twice, he was dragged down again on both occasions. The latter saw the American get caught in a D’Arce choke, with which Chimaev was eventually able to secure the win.
The Russian-born Swede had clashed with Holland backstage on Thursday, kicking the American to instigate a series of incidents that led to him walking out of his pre-match press conference. Earlier in the week, Chimaev also faced middleweight contender Paulo Costa at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.
However, Chimaev, who had been met with heavy boos at the T-Mobile Arena, was able to refocus his attention on his in-ring skills with this win. It kept him undefeated at 12-0, with 11 of those victories coming by end. The 28-year-old is already ranked third at welterweight in the UFC and appears to be closing in on a title shot, regardless of his failed weight cut and behavior outside the ring this week.
Earlier in the night, Rodriguez defeated Lee by split decision.
UFC 279 Full Results
Nate Diaz org. Tony Ferguson via fourth-round submission (guillotine choke, 2:52)
Khamzat Chimaev def. Kevin Holland via first round submission (D’Arce choke, 2:13)
Def. Daniel Rodriguez. Li Jingliang by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Irini Aldana or. Macy Chiasson via third-round TKO (up-kick, 2:21)
Johnny Walker def. Ion Cutelaba via first-round submission (back-naked choke, 4:37)
Julian Erosa def. Hakeem Dawodu by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jailton Almeida def. Anton Turkalj via first-round submission (back naked choke, 4:27)
Denis Tiuliulin def. Jamie Pickett via second-round TKO (knee, ground strikes, 4:52)
Chris Barnett op. Jake Collier via second-round TKO (ground strikes, 2:24)
Norma Dumont def. Danyelle Wolf by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Alatengheili def. Chad Anheliger by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Elise Reed or. Melissa Martinez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Yohan Lainesse def. Darian Weeks via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)