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UFC 279: Dana White defends Nate Diaz vs Khamzat Chimaev mismatch, doesn’t regret losing Diaz-McGregor trilogy

UFC 202 - Press Conference Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Nate Diaz started his UFC career as a lightweight but now competes at 170 pounds because cutting weight sucks and Diaz turned 37 back in April. For his next (and final) assignment, the former “Ultimate Fighter” champ will battle welterweight contender and decorated international wrestler Khamzat Chimaev, who also holds a perfect record at middleweight.

So is this an “assassination attempt” by UFC to punish Diaz for his big mouth?

“I care about Nate a lot,” UFC President Dana White told reporters on Tuesday. “I like Nate, and Nate came in here, long before that fight was ever made, and we were talking about it being his last fight... You think about the wars that Nate Diaz has put on and the incredible fights and the big fights that he’s done with us, go do whatever you want to do, man. But getting a fight done with him isn’t as easy as seems. Everybody’s like, ‘Well, why don’t you make a fight?’ Well, he asked for Francis Ngannou. I could go on forever, but I won’t. We got it done. That’s the fight he wanted.”

Diaz vs. Chimaev headlines the UFC 279 pay-per-view (PPV) on Sept. 10 in Las Vegas.

This marks the last fight on the Stockton slugger’s existing contract, which means fans will never get that “special’ trilogy between Diaz and longtime rival Conor McGregor. Diaz submitted “Notorious” at UFC 196 back in early 2016 but then dropped a majority decision in their UFC 202 rematch just a few months later.

“Conor’s not ready yet,” White said. “Conor’s leg isn’t healed yet. Nate could obviously sit around and wait for that, but he doesn’t want it. He wants to go, and we’re going. That’s one of those fights you can do any time, but no, it never worked out that way. Listen, if you get two guys like Conor and Nate, who want to fight each other bad enough, it ends up happening. It’s not like, ‘Oh God, I never got the chance to make No. 3.’ The first two were awesome. If it happens, it happens, but we got enough out of the first two.”

McGregor is still healing from a broken leg and may not return until early 2023.