Whether UFC 279’s main event, featuring breakout star Khamzat Chimaev against longtime veteran Nate Diaz, is a mismatch or not, there is no question that fight fans are intrigued by the pairing.
Diaz is expected to exit the promotion following the bout, after being embroiled in a contract dispute with the company for the better part of a year. The UFC wanted to retain Diaz’s services; Diaz himself wanted to walk. And so fights fell through despite Diaz campaigning for them, as he was unwilling to sign a contract extension, according to his version of events.
It took Diaz going public about the matter on The MMA Hour earlier this summer to finally force the UFC’s hand. Ultimately, they booked Diaz versus Chimaev, a fight Diaz had previously rejected and still doesn’t exactly want. Instead, he’s taking the fight simply so he can leave, while the UFC looks to further build Chimaev’s name off of one of its biggest stars.
Chimaev, well, when he’s not going at it with Paulo Costa, or bro-mancing Darren Till, he remains the “next big thing” in mixed martial arts. While a fight with Gilbert Burns earlier this year made “Borz” look human, he still won the bout — and is now knocking on the door of a title shot.
No, since you’re probably asking, a win over Diaz should not secure that title shot for Chimaev. Diaz hasn’t won a fight since 2019 and has lost his last two bouts, to the current champ and a two-time title challenger in the weight class. But stranger things have happened, and while one more fight would be ideal, there is the idea of striking while the iron is hot.
All of this makes for a wildly entertaining, storyline laden affair atop UFC 279. In advance of the event, the UFC will bring the key players together for Thursday’s pre-fight press conference. A live stream of that is available above, starting at 7PM ET.