Khamzat Chimaev vs Nate Diaz always felt like a terrible booking designed to try to hurt the Stockton native’s value as he heads towards free agency. After seeing both men perform tonight, it only highlighted just how bad that could’ve all turned out.
Fortunately, all that chaos during the UFC 279 fight week caused some late shuffles and ended up with better match ups. Instead of Diaz and Ferguson being sacrificed to young killers, the two veterans got to have a fun and evenly matched scrap.
Both Diaz and Ferguson are known for their awkward timing and unorthodox styles, and combining them resulted in moments that were probably weirder than we could’ve ever imagined. Both men had a lot of antics and funny moments in there, but each were still very respectful with their showboating, if that made sense.
Ferguson had a lot of good moments and was scoring with nice leg kicks, but as the fight progressed, Diaz started pressuring and landing more of his boxing combinations. He didn’t quite look like the Diaz of old, but he landed enough shots by the fence that made Ferguson — and his corner — want a takedown.
It proved to be a bad idea, as the sloppy shot attempt was instantly met with a guillotine choke. Ferguson was forced to quickly tap, and Diaz had a vintage moment flexing for the camera as he finished the submission.
While UFC originally tried some pretty vindictive marketing, some wild circumstances had Diaz ending up with his hand raised to get the perfect send off.
Diaz said he’ll look to “take over” other sports next — likely boxing and even some grappling — but Diaz also left the door for a possible UFC return down the line. He of course also has that lucrative trilogy with Conor McGregor that can be made at some point.
- Say what you want about Khamzat Chimaev’s actions outside the cage or the people he chooses to associate himself with, but he looked great in his bout with Kevin Holland. Some people complained about him shooting when Holland was trying to touch gloves, but I didn’t really mind it as much as others did. (Protect yourself at all times!) Holland did a lot of things right when defending all those wrestling transitions, and that d’arce chain sequence. He’s a legitimate BJJ black belt too, and all those proper reactions and defensive maneuvers really just made me more impressed with just how Chimaev’s offense was so much better.
I love d’arce chokes and the meta game behind it, and Holland did a lot of things right in trying to defend that. It’s just that Chimaev’s offense there is even better. Some may not have noticed those details, but Chimaev had an answer for every small reaction from Holland, and was just one step ahead in that finishing sequence. Just high level d’arce and front head lock transitions.
- Unfortunately, as good as his performance was, just about every non-fighting aspect from Chimaev was the complete opposite. He turned a lot of people off by the botched cut, then showing no remorse and just blaming others (including the doctor) for the miss. He won tonight, but he was constantly booed all throughout. His actions not only became a huge inconvenience for many as three fights got shuffled, but he lost his main event slot and the biggest opportunity of his career. Everything was already being handed to him on a silver platter but he still managed to fumble the bag. His tirade blaming Diaz for the fight not happening probably didn’t get him more fans either.
- Daniel Rodriguez vs Li Jingliang really could’ve gone either way, but it’s hard not to feel for “The Leech” in this case. He was screwed over repeatedly this entire week, but he still accepted a tougher and lower profile fight against a guy 10 pounds heavier. Everyone was talking about “real gangster” moves, but that’s exactly how Li acted by accepting that on a day’s notice. Unfortunately things didn’t work out. He lost his shot at Ferguson, then lost a split decision against a far bigger guy… and he still didn’t get to show off his suit!
- Did you ever imagine seeing an upkick liver shot finish? I never did. But that’s exactly what happened when Irene Aldana stopped Macy Chiasson. She also had a pretty nasty looking armlock earlier that almost finished the fight, but everyone will remember that fight for having the first ever upkick body shot knockout.
- Johnny Walker and Ion Cutelaba both desperately needed wins, but it was the former who got to stop that rough streak. Walker got an early finish again, but it was surprisingly done via choke, the first ever submission in his UFC career. Cutelaba has just two wins in his last eight fights, and I wonder how long he’ll be sticking around.
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