Fast-rising star, Khamzat Chimaev, was being groomed for a future Welterweight title shot, a seemingly generational-type talent who can chew up opponents with his unbridled appetite for violence and spit them out in seconds. UFC was all-in, too, looking to build Chimaev with a win over Octagon veteran Nate Diaz, who would be reluctantly fulfilling the final fight on his promotional contract.
In other words, Diaz was handpicked to get steamrolled and dumped into combat sports free agency as beat up and mangled as possible. But, fate intervened yesterday, with Chimaev blowing up the scale — and 60 percent of the UFC 279 pay-per-view (PPV) main card along with it — and forcing Dana White and Co. to do some serious damage control.
It worked, at least for Diaz, who can ride off into the sunset much richer and at the expense of a less dangerous opponent (Tony Ferguson).
So, instead of Diaz, “Borz” was paired opposite Kevin Holland, who was in Las Vegas, Nevada, to battle Daniel Rodriguez in a short-notice, 180-pound Catchweight bout inside T-Mobile Arena. In a convenient twist, Chimaev and Holland were involved in a backstage altercation the night before the weigh-in (watch it), so the match up doesn’t really make sense rankings-wise, it was expect to be undoubtedly fun.
And for a fight that was scheduled for five rounds, it needed less than one, with Khamzat rag-dolling Holland en route to a quick first round submission (watch highlights).
Khamzat was showered with more boos during his walkout, but “Borz” seemed unfazed. And he wasted little time going after Holland, charging out of his corner with purpose, perhaps looking to turn those frowns in the crowd upside-down. Holland went to touch gloves and Khamzat was all over him like white on rice, rag-dolling him with an immediate takedown. Holland got back up in the scramble, but Khamzat was draped on his back. Holland tried to scramble again, but Khamzat put him right back on the canvas. He angled for a submission, but Holland defended. Then Khamzat switched to a tight d’arce choke, but Holland popped his head out. It wasn’t over, with Holland continuing to defend well on a tighter re-adjusted position. The last one was just too tight, though, with Holland tapping after an overwhelming assault.
Khamzat went into full heel mode in the post-fight interview, which once again did not go over well with the fans in attendance. Too soon.
Final result: Chimaev def. Holland via submission (d’arce choke) in round one — HIGHLIGHTS!
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.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 279: “Diaz vs Ferguson” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
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