Nate Diaz makes his last appearance in an Octagon after an epic UFC career Saturday in the main event of UFC 279 in Las Vegas against former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson. The two fan favorites finally square off in a welterweight bout after an unprecedented turn of events rocked the main map.
Diaz began his UFC career in 2007 on “The Ultimate Fighter” and compiled a professional MMA record of 20-13 with 11 of those wins by submission. His biggest victory to date was a short-notice submission win in 2016 over Conor McGregor, who was coming off back-to-back victories for the featherweight and then lightweight championship belts. Choking out the UFC’s first concurrent two-time champion catapulted the Stockton, Calif. fighter to glory. He lost the rematch to McGregor later that year and a trilogy fight has since been mooted but has not materialized.
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 loss against Michael Chandler in May. But after Khamzat Chimaev weighed in at 7.5 pounds for his scheduled fight against Diaz atop the card, Ferguson was offered the main event slot against Diaz and accepted.
Although Ferguson is riding a four-fight losing streak, the losses have come to Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush and Chandler – all bona fide studs in the UFC’s stacked lightweight division. Before the losses started piling up, Ferguson was riding an incredible 12-fight winning streak in which he won the interim lightweight title, but he never fought for the undisputed title.
Chimaev’s weight issue cost him main event stardom against Diaz, but not a spot on the card as he now faces Kevin Holland in a catchweight bout in the co-main event. The two were involved in a backstage altercation at Wednesday’s press conference, so the fight makes sense.
Also on the main card, Jingliang will now face Daniel Rodriguez, who was originally scheduled 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 T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, so follow our live tracker below for all the latest updates and analysis.
UFC 279 live scores, highlights, analysis
UFC 279 main card odds, results, highlights (start time 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+PPV)
Welterweight: Nate Diaz +130 vs. Tony Ferguson -155
Catchweight (180 lbs): Khamzat Chimaev -600 vs. Kevin Holland +425
Catchweight (180 lbs): Li Jingliang +135 vs. Daniel Rodriguez -165
Catchweight (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+)
Catchweight (149.5 lbs): Hakeem Dawodu -215 vs. Julian Erosa +175
Catchweight (220 lbs): Jailton Almeida def. Anton Turkalj by submission (rear naked choke) to
Middleweight: Denis Tiuliulin def. Jamie Pickett by TKO at 4:52 from R2
Variable weight (267.5 lbs): Chris Barnett won. Jake Collier by TKO at 2:24 from R2:
Full UFC 279 early prelims results
Women’s Featherweight: Norma Dumont -def. Danyelle Wolf via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Bantamweight: Alateng Heili defeated. Chad Anheliger via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Women’s Strawweight: Elise Reed def. Melissa Martinez via unanimous decision (29-28, 28-28, 29-28)
Welterweight: Yohan Lainesse def. Darian Weeks by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)