Few could have predicted the chaos of UFC 279’s fight week. Fewer still would have prognosticated the loss of the card’s main event, and the complete shuffling of the deck that has resulted.
On Friday, Khamzat Chimaev, less than a day removed from sparking confrontations (plural) backstage at the UFC 279 pre-fight press conference that led to its cancellation, missed weight for his main event fight with Nate Diaz. A full 7.5lbs heavy, the fight with Diaz was instantly in jeopardy.
Hours later, with rumors swirling, UFC President Dana White has announced the promotion’s contingency plan. What it boils down to is this:
Chimaev will now face Kevin Holland in a five-round co-main event at UFC 279. Tony Ferguson, originally scheduled to face Li Jingliang, will move up to the main event, against Diaz.
Holland’s opponent, Daniel Rodriguez, is expected to fight Jingliang. Normally a welterweight, “D-Rod” had taken a short-notice fight with Holland at a 180lb catchweight.
White announced the changes on Instagram Live and other platforms.
Somewhat amazingly, all fighters involved remain on the card remain on the event — albeit against different opponents.
The need to rebuild a card and put together three new fights just a day out from a major PPV card is essentially unprecedented in modern UFC history. It comes following a bumpy week that saw Chimaev in confrontations with Paulo Costa, Holland, Diaz and his camp, all leading up to Friday’s missed weight.
UFC 279 takes place Saturday, September 10, 2022 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.