Nate Diaz submits Tony Ferguson at UFC 279 after Khamzat Chimaev runs through Kevin Holland

Nate Diaz submits Tony Ferguson at UFC 279 after Khamzat Chimaev runs through Kevin Holland

Nate Diaz exited the UFC with a submission victory on Saturday, beating fellow fan favourite Tony Ferguson in the final fight of his UFC contract.

Diaz had been scheduled to take on the UFC’s fastest-rising star, Khamzat Chimaev, in the main event of UFC 279, but Chimaev weighed in seven-and-a-half pounds over the welterweight limit, causing the card to be drastically reworked.

American Diaz ultimately took on compatriot Ferguson, who was originally due to face Li Jingliang. The Chinaman instead fought Daniel Rodriguez, whose original opponent Kevin Holland went up against Chimaev.

Diaz and Chimaev both emerged as submission winners from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, with 37-year-old Diaz forcing Ferguson, 38, to tap out to a guillotine choke in the fourth round, after Chimaev had submitted Holland with a D’Arce choke in the co-main event.

Diaz and Ferguson’s fight was at times a sloppy one, contested between two aging icons. Diaz has fought just four times in the last six years, winning two and losing two, and he has long expressed a desire to leave the UFC – something he is now free to do. Meanwhile, former interim lightweight champion Ferguson has now lost five fights in a row, three of those defeats coming via finishes.

The majority of the main event was contested on the feet, where Diaz got the better of the striking exchanges and Ferguson suffered a severe cut to his left shin after seeing a leg kick checked. In the fourth round, Ferguson attempted a double-leg takedown while under pressure from his opponent, and he was immediately caught in a guillotine by Diaz when the pair hit the canvas. Ferguson soon tapped out to extend his losing streak, while Diaz got back in the winning column 15 months after his last outing – a decision loss to now-welterweight champion Leon Edwards.

“I outdid everybody on pay, I outdid everybody on surviving,” Diaz reflected on his UFC career in his post-fight interview.

“I wanna get out [of] the UFC for a minute and show all these other fighters how to own up another sport. Then I’m gonna be right back here to get a motherf*****g UFC title.”

Chimaev, meanwhile, took down Holland with ease within seconds of their catchweight bout beginning, and though Holland was able to stand twice, he was dragged down again on both occasions. The latter saw the American caught in a D’Arce choke, with which Chimaev was eventually able to secure the win.

The Russian-born Swede had come to blows with Holland backstage on Thursday, kicking the American to incite a series of incidents that led to the abandonment of the pre-fight press conference. Earlier in the week, Chimaev had also confronted middleweight contender Paulo Costa at the UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas.

Chimaev, who had emerged to heavy boos at the T-Mobile Arena, was able to redirect attention to his in-ring skills with this victory, however. It kept him unbeaten at 12-0, with 11 of those wins having come via finish. The 28-year-old is already ranked third at welterweight in the UFC and appears to be closing in on a title shot, regardless of his failed weight-cut and behaviour outside of the ring this week.

Earlier in the night, Rodriguez defeated Li via split decision.

Full results

Main card

Nate Diaz def. Tony Ferguson via fourth-round submission (guillotine choke, 2:52)

Khamzat Chimaev def. Kevin Holland via first-round submission (D’Arce choke, 2:13)

Daniel Rodriguez def. Li Jingliang via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Irene Aldana def. Macy Chiasson via third-round TKO (up-kick, 2:21)

Johnny Walker def. Ion Cutelaba via first-round submission (rear-naked choke, 4:37)


Julian Erosa def. Hakeem Dawodu via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Jailton Almeida def. Anton Turkalj via first-round submission (rear naked choke, 4:27)

Denis Tiuliulin def. Jamie Pickett via second-round TKO (knee, ground strikes; 4:52)

Chris Barnett def. Jake Collier via second-round TKO (ground strikes, 2:24)

Early prelims

Norma Dumont def. Danyelle Wolf via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

Alatengheili def. Chad Anheliger via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Elise Reed def. Melissa Martinez via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Yohan Lainesse def. Darian Weeks via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)