There are events with championship impact, and then there are fight cards constructed purely for the amusement of fans. UFC 279 is very clearly the latter.
Khamzat Chimaev (11-0) was going to be putting his unbeaten pro record on the line against Nate Diaz (20-13), one of the most beloved mixed martial artists of all time, in a five-round welterweight main event Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Early prelim action begins at 6 p.m. ET, with the main card starting at 10 p.m.
Unfortunately. controversy ramped up at the weigh-ins on Friday, where Chimaev came in at 178.5 pounds, 7.5 pounds overweight. The chaotic development has the entire main card in flux.
178.5 for @KChimaev. He will have an additional hour to make the weight.
Khamzat didn't end up making weight and the card was put in a blender from there with the new main event seeing longtime longtime lightweight Tony Ferguson stepping up to the main event spot across from Diaz, while Chimaev slides down to the co-main event to fight Kevin Holland. Holland's opponent, Daniel Rodriguez, is fighting Tony Ferguson's previously scheduled counterpart -- Li Jingliang. Clear as mud?
Nathan Diaz x Tony Ferguson Kevin Holland x Khamzat Chimaev Li Jingliang x Daniel Rodriguez
Thankfully for the UFC, Ferguson was stepping up to the welterweight division for this card so sliding into the main event works out perfectly. "El Cucuy" finds himself on a four-fight losing skid, the first time he has lost consecutive fights in his 32-fight career.
Similarly for Diaz, the 37-year-old made his Octagon debut way back in 2007 and is at the end of his rope in the UFC. The fight game hasn’t been kind to Diaz lately, as he’s fought just four times since losing to Conor McGregor at UFC 202. The southpaw is 1-2 in his last three fights, with his latest loss coming against Leon Edwards, the current welterweight champ, in a bout Diaz entered as a +350 underdog.
Online sportsbook Sportsbook lists Ferguson as a slight -130 favorite, while Diaz enters as a +110 underdog.
The biggest underdog of the entire card is the prelim bout between Anton Turkalj and Jailton Almeida, where Turkalj is a +500 underdog.
The very first bout of the evening features the card’s tightest odds, where welterweights Darian Weeks (-120) and Yohan Lainesse (EVEN) will try to start things off with a bang.
UFC 279 Betting Odds & Fight Card
Odds as of September 10 via Sportsbook
Nate Diaz vs Tony Ferguson Odds & Pick
Sportsbooks don’t love Diaz. That said, this is a much more digestible line compared the +700 odds he was staring down had he taken on Chimaev. The California native has been the underdog in eight consecutive fights, and his last chalk status came in 2013 when he lost to Josh Thomson via stoppage in Round 2.
Meanwhile, those eager to play Ferguson as a dog against the Leech may be disappointed to see as the chalk in his promotion to the main event. El Cucuy was the betting favorite when he fought Charles Oliveira at UFC 256 in 2020.
Pick: Ferguson by KO/TKO (+235); UNDER 4.5 Rounds (-110)
Kevin Holland (23-7) will square off against Khamzat Chimaev (11-0) in a catchweight bout at 180 pounds in the co-main event. These two had some beef in the fighter's hotel at an event last year and that animosity continued ahead of the UFC 279 press conference in which the two had an altercation that canceled the event. Expect fireworks when the cage door closes.
Pick: Chimaev Inside The Distance (+140)
Li Jingliang vs Daniel Rodriguez Odds & Pick
The feature bout of the night is a catchweight clash between Jingliang Li (19-7) and Daniel Rodriguez (16-2).
Jingliang is 2-2 in his last four but won his last bout vs Muslim Salikhov by second-round knockout. Rodriguez is riding a three-fight winning streak and 12 of his last 13 with only a decision loss to Nicolas Dalby at UFC 255 breaking up the run.
Pick: Rodriguez By Decision (+145)
Irene Aldana vs Macy Chiasson Odds & Pick
In the only women’s event on the main card, bantamweights Irene Aldana (13-6) and Macy Chiasson (8-2) will chuck knuckles for a possible three rounds.
Pick: Aldana by KO/TKO (+375)
Johnny Walker vs Ion Cutelaba Odds & Pick
The main card begins with a fun battle between light heavyweights Johnny Walker (18-7) and Ion Cutelaba (16-7-1).