Nate Diaz chokes out Tony Ferguson to end chaotic UFC 279

Nate Diaz stopped Tony Ferguson with a guillotine choke early in the fourth round of UFC 279’s hastily arranged main event on Saturday night.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nate Diaz stopped Tony Ferguson with a guillotine choke early in the fourth round of Saturday night’s hastily arranged main event of UFC 279.

Diaz (21-13), 37, ended his current UFC contract by defeating compatriot Ferguson (25-9) in a matchup that took place just Friday after Khamzat Chimaev lost the weight for his main event fight with Diaz had greatly missed.

Chimaev stopped Kevin Holland with a D’Arce choke 2:13 in the first round of their grudge match, which also arose after Chimaev (12-0) missed the weight by 7 1/2 pounds on Friday morning. The UFC dramatically shuffled their cards to keep both Chimaev and Diaz on the show, resulting in three new matchups for the final three bouts at T-Mobile Arena.

Diaz’s desire to fight the vaunted Chimaev seemed foolhardy in a decidedly Diaz way, but the late duel with Ferguson was far more competitive than the original booking likely would have been. Ferguson, who only agreed to be on the card three weeks ago, had lost his previous four fights in the last three years while Diaz was 1-2 in the last six.

Diaz was regularly landing punches at Ferguson in the first two rounds, and in the third round he played in front of the crowd with long walks around the cage between punches, even resting temporarily with an arm on the cage.

Ferguson caught Diaz’s attention with leg kicks — but when Ferguson tried to get into a grappling match, Diaz choked and ended the fourth match at 2:52.

Diaz has already announced plans to start his own advertising company outside of the UFC, and each fight could be the last for a popular fighter who has only competed four times in the past six years.

But Diaz may not be quite done with the UFC, having received a tweet earlier Saturday from Conor McGregor promising to complete their trilogy. Diaz and McGregor shared two extremely thrilling bouts in 2016 and the results catapulted Diaz into the top flight of mixed martial arts celebrities.

The pay-per-view kicked off with several significant changes made just a day earlier because Chimaev was nowhere near his contracted weight – and then shrugged and smiled about it on the scales. Chimaev, the Chechen-born Swede who is considered one of MMA’s rising talents, was loudly booed by the crowd right on the Las Vegas Strip on fight night.

Instead of removing Chimaev or Diaz from the card, the UFC strove to create three new matchups for the show’s top three fights. Diaz and Ferguson were paired in a fight long-coveted by MMA fans but initially turned down by Diaz, while Chimaev was matched at a catchweight against Holland.

Chimaev and Holland already had bad blood earlier in the week when they quarreled backstage at the UFC 279 press conference, forcing the event’s cancellation.

After a hectic change in the opening seconds, Chimaev made short work of Holland. His burgeoning reputation as a heel only grew when he was asked about missing weight in the post-fight interview and responded to thunderous boos, “I don’t care about (that)”.

“I’m the black belt here,” Chimaev added. “I’m Mike Tyson. I’m Muhammad Ali.”

Li Jingliang, who started the week expecting to face Ferguson, faced Daniel Rodriguez, Holland’s scheduled opponent. Rodriguez (17-2) defeated Li (19-8) by split decision in an uneventful bout in which both fighters were understandably wary of their unknown opponent.

Light heavyweight Johnny Walker led the pay-per-view card with an assist from Ion Cuțelaba before Irene Aldana stopped Macy Chiasson with an exceptional upkick to the body while Aldana was on the canvas. Aldana drove her heel into Chiasson’s abdomen as Chiasson towered over her, abruptly ending the fight.

On the early undercard, heavyweight Chris Barnett stopped Jake Collier with punches in the first round. Barnett missed the weight for his fight, which was fought at a catchweight. Nate Diaz chokes out Tony Ferguson to end chaotic UFC 279

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