Legendary UFC fighter Nate Diaz wrapped up his current UFC contract with a win on Saturday night, submitting Tony Ferguson in the fourth round of a main event fight.
Their welterweight bout was the headliner for UFC 279, which took place from the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Diaz caught Ferguson in the fourth round with a darce choke, causing a tap from the veteran shortly after.
The fight hardly had any grappling in it prior to the stoppage. For most of the three rounds before, the contest saw both fighters engage in an odd stand-up battle.
The welterweights worked at a slow pace during the contest, sometimes taking breaks to taunt or make motions toward their opponent. Diaz seemed to succeed in these earlier rounds, landing the more effective shots against Ferguson.
After the fight, Diaz reiterated that his current UFC contract came to an end following this fight. Reflecting on his 15-year run with the promotion, he mentioned that it hasn’t always been easy.
“It’s been a love-hate relationship with me and the UFC the whole time I’ve been in this organization… In the end I love the UFC,” said Diaz in his post-fight interview.
Diaz then said he hopes to become the best in another competition, whether it be a different combat sport or a different MMA promotion. After that, he said he wants to come back to the UFC and become a champion.
The interview showed that Diaz wants to pursue a new venture in his life, but also that he doesn’t seem interested in retiring from MMA just yet.
Saturday’s result was the first win for Diaz since 2019 when he beat Anthony Pettis. More recent fights have seen him lose to Jorge Masvidal and Leon Edwards.
Diaz was originally scheduled to face undefeated welterweight Khamzat Chimaev in the main event of the card. Plans had to change just a little more than 24 hours before the event, as Chimaev missed weight for their bout by seven-and-a-half pounds.
The card was reshuffled due to this weight issue. Chimaev was moved down to the co-main event, and Ferguson was called-up from lower on the card to face Diaz.
Saturday was the fifth consecutive loss for Ferguson. He has struggled since he challenged for a belt in 2020. Recent defeats have come against respected opponents at lightweight, suffering defeats to Michael Chandler and Beneil Dariush.
Despite his lengthy skid only continuing on Saturday night, Ferguson sounded rejuvenated following his main event fight Saturday.
“I’m back,” he told the ruckus Las Vegas crowd.
Chimaev Submits Holland Early
Khamzat Chimaev remained undefeated in Saturday’s co-main event, submitting short-notice opponent Kevin Holland in the first round.
Chimaev was quick to take Holland to the ground in the opening minutes of the fight. After controlling Holland on the ground for numerous minutes, Chimaev secured a darce choke to submit Holland.
Chimaev was moved down to the co-main event of the card after missing weight for his fight against Diaz. Holland, who was originally expected to face Rodriguez, was given this fight due to the post-weigh-in changes.
Chimaev’s record is now a flawless 12 wins as a pro. His previous fight remains his biggest test yet, going the distance against former title challenger Gilbert Burns for a decision victory.
Chimaev was booed by the Las Vegas crowd during his post-fight interview.
Holland was coming off two recent finish victories at welterweight prior to Saturday night.
This fight was billed as somewhat of a grudge match, as the talents got into a physical altercation Thursday backstage at a press conference held by the promotion, causing the public event to get canceled altogether.
Rodriguez Takes Close Decision Over Li
Daniel Rodriguez picked up a win in a close stand-up battle against Li Jingliang, defeating him in a split decision outcome.
The fight was entirely on the feet for all three rounds of the contest. Rodriguez used his boxing for most of the fight, scoring with his jabs frequently. Li’s attacks were more varied, going after the legs and body of Rodriguez more often.
This matchup was part of the 11th-hour shuffles made to UFC 279.
Rodriguez was originally scheduled to face Kevin Holland, and Li Jingliang was booked to meet now-headliner Tony Ferguson.
Rodriguez was first set to fight in a 180-pound catchweight bout, while Li made weight for a welterweight fight. Because of this, Li entered Saturday with somewhat of a weight disadvantage.
Li ended the extensive winning streak of Muslim Salikhov in his previous bout, earning a stoppage against Muslim Salikhov.
Rodriguez is now on a strong four-fight winning streak. Previous victories, including a win against Kevin Lee, came from 2021.
Aldana Scores Rare Upkick Finish
Irene Aldana put a sudden end to her close fight against Macy Chiasson in the third round with a rare stoppage.
Aldana hurt Chiasson in the third round, scoring with a clean upkick to her body. Chiasson fell to the ground due to this blow, causing the bout to end.
Both fighters possibly had a round each on scorecards prior to the finish.
Aldana started the fight successfully, including a strong moment late in the first round. She punished Chiasson for failing on a takedown attempt in the closing minutes of the frame, attacking her on the ground.
Aldana first attempted an armbar on the ground against Chiasson. After that, she moved into full mount, where she landed a series of punches to her head.
Chiasson succeeded more with her grappling in the second round. She was able to take the back of Aldana halfway through the round, using this position to score with numerous elbows to the head. She kept a dominant position on the ground until the round expired.
Aldana was fighting for the first time in over a year. Her previous fight, which came in July 2021, was a first-round victory over Yana Kunitskaya.
Aldana is now the third fighter in UFC history to score an upkick finish, per Saturday’s official broadcast.
Chiasson’s previous fight was a split decision over Norma Dumont.
Saturday’s fight was at a catchweight of 140-pounds, between bantamweight and featherweight.
Walker Ends Skid With Early Submission
Johnny Walker started the main card with a win at light heavyweight, submitting Ion Cutelaba in the first round with a rear naked choke.
The fight went to the ground early when Cutelaba scored a takedown. Walker was able to secure a dominant position later in the frame, taking the back of Cutelaba.
Walker searched for a choke for numerous minutes before finally earning a tap from Cutelaba in the final seconds of the round.
The victory put Walker back into the win column after losing two fights recently. Walker has struggled in recent years, having won just one of his previous five fights against high-ranked names at light heavyweight.
Cutelaba has now suffered two consecutive losses. His previous fight was also a submission defeat, getting stopped within a round by Ryan Spann.
The Rest of the Card
Julian Erosa had an impressive performance over high-level featherweight Hakeem Dawodu, hurting him on the feet and controlling him on the ground for a unanimous decision win.
Jailton Almeida had a quick win for his third UFC victory on Saturday night. Almeida took short-notice UFC newcomer Anton Turkalj to the ground early, and finished the fight in the first with a rear naked choke.
Denis Tiuliulin closed out a dominant striking performance against Jamie Pickett late in the second round, dropping him with a knee and then connecting with ground and pound shots. The fight was Tiuliulin’s first UFC win through two appearances.
Surviving past a tough round that saw him suffer damage on the feet, Chris Barnett earned a second round finish victory over Jake Collier. Barnett took full mount on the ground after Collier slipped and fell off a failed takedown attempt. One minute later, ground and pound shots from Barnett caused the fight to end.
Norma Dumont spoiled the long-awaited UFC debut of Danyelle Wolf at featherweight, succeeding on the feet before dominating the bout on the ground. In the end, Dumont took a clean sweep unanimous decision victory. Wolf, a former amateur boxer, now has an MMA record of just one win and one loss.
Alatengheili’s sharp striking proved successful for him against Chad Anheliger, stunning the bantamweight numerous times early and cruising to a unanimous decision win.
Elise Reed handed UFC newcomer Melissa Martinez her first pro loss on the prelims, beating her in a unanimous decision result. Reed likely secured her win in the closing minutes of the battle, taking Martinez down and landing ground and pound to steal the final frame.
Yohan Lainesse picked up his first pro win in an incredibly close striking battle against Darian Weeks, winning via split decision in the end.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (PPV)
Bout 13: Nate Diaz def. Tony Ferguson via Submission, Guillotine Choke (RD 4, 2:52)
Bout 12: Khamzat Chimaev def. Kevin Holland via Submission, Darce Choke (RD 1, 2:13)
Bout 11: Daniel Rodriguez def. Li Jingliang via Decision, Split
Bout 10: Irene Aldana def. Macy Chiasson via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 2:21)
Bout 9: Johnny Walker def. Ion Cutelaba via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 4:37)
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EDT / 5:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 8: Hakeem Dawodu def. Julian Erosa via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 7: Jailton Almeida def. Anton Turkalj via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 4:27)
Bout 6: Denis Tiuliulin def. Jamie Pickett via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 4:52)
Bout 5: Chris Barnett def. Jake Collier via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 2:24)
Early Prelims (6:00PM EDT / 3:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 4: Norma Dumont def. Danyelle Wolf via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 3: Alatengheili def. Chad Anheliger via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 2: Elise Reed def. Melissa Martinez via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 1: Yohan Lainesse def. Darian Weeks via Decision, Split