Nate Diaz steps into the Octagon on Sept. 10, 2022, to fight Khamzat Chimaev in a special non-title main event at UFC 279. It’s the last fight on Diaz’s current UFC contract, and many suspect the promotion is looking to bury Nate on the way out. Oddsmakers certainly see it that way, with Chimaev a stunning -1100 favorite to Diaz’s +700 underdog status.
If Diaz is feeling the pressure coming into this bout, he’s not showing it. In the official Countdown to UFC 279 video, Nate suggested it’s Khamzat Chimaev that has all the expectations piled on him.
“It’s a fight as far as I’m concerned,” Diaz said. “Him being a favorite and everybody thinking he’s gonna win by — on what ground? You better take me clean out the way the odds are, right? Pressure’s on, dawg.”
Getting Diaz into the cage against Chimaev was a drawn out affair, with the Stockton, Calif., fighter initially turning down the match up.
“I just asked for like five, six, seven of the top guys and you’re giving me none of them,” he explained on the Countdown show. “And now you’re going to give me that guy that hasn’t earned his keep, hasn’t done a thing. Have him fight Burns. Have him fight Burns, if he beats Burns, then I’ll fight him. You know what I’m sayin’? Here we are now, he did his things, and now I’ve got a fight on my hands.”
Diaz also dismissed all Chimaev’s talk of being tougher and the “real gangster.”
“I don’t think anyone else is in the fight game,” he said. “They can act like they are and say like they are, and ‘I’m from this funny country where everybody’s at war.’ This is real war, right here. My whole life. And I don’t think that’s ever going to stop.”
“Jake [Shields], Nick [Diaz], and Gilbert [Melendez] were running the game and I was 16 years old and started training, started working out hard,” Nate said. “That was the coolest thing. The benefit I had was I understood how champions rolled, you know? And then when I started happening, a fight was happening every two months, four months, six months. So my whole life, it’s been nothing but fight competition. And it still is.
“If we were just strictly street fighters, why would I still be here with the longest UFC career out of everybody?” he continued. “Nowadays I realize I’m more conscious of that nobody else was doing that much fighting, like how I was, and like how my brother was, and how anyone I was around. Because it’s a fight environment, this is a fight life, and I’ll be here til the end of time.”
That’s certainly not the talk of someone who’s looking to wrap up his fighting career. What Nate will do after completing his UFC contract will depend on a number of factors, but he’ll have no shortage of options. Diaz is by far the biggest UFC pay-per-view (PPV) draw that has ever reached free agency, which may explain the reason the promotion has matched him up against a stone-cold killer in Khamzat Chimaev.
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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