Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight finishers Tony Ferguson and Nate Diaz will collide TONIGHT (Sat., Sept. 10, 2022) at UFC 279 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nate Diaz vs. Khamzat Chimaev was a stupid, reprehensible booking that never should have been made, and its karmic that the match up blew up in UFC’s face. Replacing it is the much better option, the fight that many, many fans pointed to and wondered, “Why doesn’t UFC just book Tony Vs. Diaz?” Thanks to Chimaev’s gross incompetence on the scale, fans will be treated to a much better main event. I’m not saying he’s the good guy in all this, but for once, everything worked out swimmingly.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Kevin Lee (UFC 216), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC Fight Night 98), Anthony Pettis (UFC 229), Edson Barboza (TUF 22 Finale), Josh Thomson (UFC Fight Night 71), Donald Cerrone (UFC 238)
Key Losses: Justin Gaethje (UFC 249), Charles Oliveira (UFC 256), Beneil Dariush (UFC 262), Michael Chandler (UFC 274)
Keys to Victory: At his height, Ferguson was the king of mixed martial arts (MMA) chaos. Ferguson can push a terrifying pace and sap his opponent’s will to fight with constant snap kicks and elbows. He’s lost a step, but that doesn’t mean Ferguson is without any weapons.
Against Diaz, this is going to be an absolute scrap. Ferguson wasn’t planning for 25 minutes, but now he’s in a five-round main event, and that certainly changes things. If “El Cucuy” completely throws caution to the wind, we could see him fatigue — not a sight Ferguson fans are accustomed to.
Ferguson’s kicking game should really be the difference here. It’s what can buy him to breathe and keep him ahead on the damage game. Both men are quite good at sticking their opponent with a straight shot, pulling back to avoid counters, then returning fire. Both men can pressure well and scramble on the mat.
Kicks are the difference. Ferguson can hammer Diaz’s lead leg to the inside and outside like few others, and his snap kick can really take the wind from Diaz’s sails.
Key Wins: Conor McGregor (UFC 196), Michael Johnson (UFC on FOX 17), Anthony Pettis (UFC 241), Donald Cerrone (UFC 141), Jim Miller (UFC on FOX 3)
Key Losses: Leon Edwards (UFC 263), Conor McGregor (UFC 202), Jorge Masvidal (UFC 244), Raphael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 13), Ben Henderson (UFC on FOX 5)
Keys to Victory: Diaz is a legend. His combination of pressure, combinations and volatile Brazilian jiu-jitsu has wilted many opponents, though it’s been some years since Diaz really broke down an opponent. I totally understand why Diaz was unmotivated to train for Chimaev, but now that he’s against a reasonable opponent, I can only hope that was all talk.
At any rate, Diaz has to press Ferguson. Both men are simply better fighters on their front foot, and in each of Ferguson’s recent showings, he’s really struggled when put on his back foot. Ferguson likes to be the bully, and since the paradigm has shifted, he’s struggled to right the ship.
Between the two, Diaz’s legendary durability has held up better into his late 30s as well. If the two are trading punch-for-punch, that would seem to favor Stockton’s finest. Furthermore, being the man moving forward would help eliminate the effectiveness of Ferguson’s kicks, as “El Cucuy” has never been one to dance and kick from the outside. He charges into his low kicks, and that’s not possible when being forced backwards.
If the two wrap up, I like Diaz’s chances at working the body and taking over in the clinch too. A takedown attempt wouldn’t be a bad idea at all!
This is likely Nate Diaz’s final walk to UFC’s Octagon.
It sure doesn’t feel like Diaz particularly cares if he walks away on a loss. Genuinely, does it matter all that much? Diaz hasn’t actually won a fight since 2019, but he’s still the main event! Will one more loss to a well-respected opponent really hurt his star all that much? Fight fans would still happily fork over cash to see Diaz box Jake Paul or headline events under his own promotion’s banner.
Diaz winning would be pretty f—king incredible, though.
As for Ferguson, this is a much better match up for him to try to rebound. Taking out Diaz doesn’t mean much in the title picture at Welterweight — or at least, it shouldn’t — but victory here could be just the confidence booster Ferguson needs. Often, when fighters struggle, confidence can be a central issue, so maybe a single win could really help get “El Cucuy” back on the right track.
At UFC 279, Tony Ferguson and Nate Diaz will meet in the new main event. Which legend will earn the win?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 279 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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