LAS VEGAS — UFC 279 has undergone a significant facelift a day before the pay-per-view event is scheduled to take place at T-Mobile Arena.
The main event Saturday is now Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson in a five-round welterweight fight. Khamzat Chimaev will face Kevin Holland in a 180-pound catchweight bout that is also scheduled for five rounds. Li Jingaliang, who was set to fight Ferguson in the co-main event, will now fight Daniel Rodriguez in a three-round catchweight contest.
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The changes were made after Chimaev badly missed weight Friday for his main-event showdown with Diaz. He tipped the scales at 178.5 pounds, 7.5 pounds over the limit.
Reports came in at the start of official weigh-ins that Chimaev was having difficulty getting down to the contracted weight of 171 pounds.
Diaz comfortably made weight at 171. Chimaev smirked as it was announced that he had weighed in at 178.5.
— Khamzat Chimaev (@KChimaev) September 9, 2022
It took several hours of negotiations for the changes to made.
The overhaul of the card may make for a more intriguing event.
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On Thursday, a physical altercation involving Chimaev, Diaz and Holland resulted in the pre-event press conference being canceled.
There were reports that Chimaev and Holland engaged in a war of words that turned physical. Now, the two will fight one another on a day’s notice. The fact Holland was already scheduled for a 180-pound catchweight fight vs. Rodriguez made booking the fight easier.
Diaz vs. Ferguson will be a battle of fan-friendly fighters. Both have had difficulty winning recently, however; they’re 1-7 in their last eight fights combined.