Nate Diaz submits Tony Ferguson in UFC 279 main event, vows he’ll return to promotion

LAS VEGAS — As this week began, Nate Diaz’s opponent was the dominant rising star Khamzat Chimaev — a small parting gift from the UFC as Diaz walked out the door.

On Saturday night, facing Tony Ferguson as his opponent, Diaz will emerge victorious after several bizarre, unprecedented days of promotion thanks to a guillotine choke submission at 2 minutes, 52 seconds of round four in the main event of UFC 279 at the T-Mobile Arena . And with that, the lore of Diaz – one of the most popular, unconventional fighters in MMA history – continues.

“I told them, ‘Give me every one you have,'” Diaz said in his post-fight interview. “At least I have a worthy OG representative of mixed martial arts.”

Diaz was originally scheduled to fight Chimaev, but Chimaev missed Friday’s weight by 7.5 pounds, coming in at 178.5 for a 171-pound limit fight. Diaz understandably chose not to fight such an overweight opponent. Diaz called Chimaev a “B—-Ass rookie” and said he only trained in wrestling during that camp because Chimaev was a dominant wrestler.

Chimaev’s missing weight set off a chain reaction as the UFC attempted to salvage the pay-per-view card. For most of Friday’s day, promotion professionals, including Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell and UFC President Dana White, worked to change the top three fights. Ferguson agreed to fight Diaz in a five round bout.

This was the last fight for Diaz’s UFC contract and he has indicated he will not return to promotion at this point. Earlier this week, the Diaz team announced that Diaz would start his own martial arts promotion, Real Fight Inc. Diaz has been with the UFC since 2007 and has been a mixed martial arts pro for 18 years.

“I want to get out of the UFC for a minute and show all these UFC fighters how to take over and own another sport, how to do it,” Diaz said, adding he meant boxing, kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu . “Conor McGregor didn’t know how to do it. None of these other fighters know how to do it. I will take on another profession and become the best at it.”

And then?

“Right back here to get another UFC title,” Diaz said.

Ferguson was scheduled to fight Li Jingliang, who was moved to a fight with Daniel Rodriguez. Chimaev, meanwhile, took on Kevin Holland in the co-main event.

Diaz (21-13) is a cult favorite who rose to superstardom with a 2016 submission win over Conor McGregor. The California native is 2-2 in his last four fights but almost knocked out Leon Edwards – the current UFC welterweight champion – in his last fight in June 2021.

Ferguson (25-8) has lost five straight games, most recently a KO loss to Michael Chandler at UFC 274 in May. The California native is a former UFC interim lightweight champion. Ferguson, 38, won 12 straight fights from 2013 to 2019 and was shared with Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC record-breaking lightweight streak. Nate Diaz submits Tony Ferguson in UFC 279 main event, vows he’ll return to promotion

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