Nate Diaz escaped unscathed. After a wild and chaotic week, Stockton’s native son left the UFC with a fourth round submission of Tony Ferguson in UFC 279the impromptu main event. The performance capped off an explosive card that also saw Khamzat Chimaev truck across Kevin Holland, a new name emerges in the mix of women’s bantamweight titles, and much more. With so much to discuss, let’s go over our six biggest takeaways from UFC 279.
1. Happy endings are rare in MMA. Hell, aside from Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St-Pierre, there really aren’t many great examples that come to mind.
You know who wasn’t supposed to join this list? Nathan Diaz.
Heading into UFC 279 fight week, anyone paying attention knew the score. Stockton’s fighting pride, the eternal thorn alongside the UFC, the superstar who’s not a needle mover, he was going to be machine fed on his way out, a sacrifice on the altar of Khamzat Chimaev for have the nerve to try to do good on their own. Exorbitant odds as unequal as 10 to 1 were displayed online and terms like “assassination attempt” were thrown around willy-nilly. Everything was so blatant, so gross. Yet we all collectively nodded and realized: That’s how it should be. When it comes to the UFC, the house always wins.
Only, the house did not win on Saturday.
If only for one night, a fighter beat the machine at its own game.
That old Diaz magic at work.
Chimaev’s dramatic weight loss on Friday opened the door for a 37-year-old OG to pull off an impossibly perfect breakout — one so pure it would have seemed absurd just 72 hours ago — and Diaz didn’t miss a beat. beat. He bent and twisted and leveraged the chaos around UFC 279 to make it exactly the kind of sendoff he deserved after 15 years of service to the UFC, the majority of which was underrated. and underpaid. Fighting his way out the door with a fully locked sash and barely a scratch on his face? No, that was never meant to be the plan, but the gods of MMA work in mysterious ways.
Diaz is now a freeman fresh off a pay-per-view win that’s going to garner more interest than any free agent to ever hit the market in MMA history, and it’s not particularly close. . After all the slights, after all the acrimonious layoffs, contract talk and endless legalese, he finally reached his promised land – and he didn’t have to compromise himself or his health to get there.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Of course, this is not a goodbye. Far from there. Wherever he ends up next, Diaz is poised to land one — if not several — of the biggest paydays of his career. Jake Paul is probably going to be involved in one of them, but who knows where else it might go? Remember that the 209 is about entering the promotion game. Perhaps there is a possible co-promotion between Real Fight, Inc. and McGregor Sports & Entertainment?
Nothing is on the table now.
That was going to be true regardless of what happened at UFC 279, but if Saturday’s laughter factory from a post-fight press conference was any indication, things just taste a little sweeter when the villainy of the house is foiled and the little man walks away unscathed.
2. Love him or hate him, Khamzat Chimaev remains one of the scariest fighters in the damn sport.
The 28-year-old contender was a disrespectful jerk for much of the UFC 279 experience. He started fights with everyone in sight. He has shown contempt for the fans on several occasions. He missed weight by an entire division and had no apology for it, to the point that even Joe Rogan was surprised by his flippancy in his post-fight interview. All in all, he’s likely leaving UFC 279 as MMA’s new No. 1 villain. But guess what? None of this matters, because once he sets foot in the cage, the man is a real demon.
Chimaev ripped Kevin Holland apart like it was the easiest job in the world. His effortless two-minute submission marked the fourth time in Chimaev’s UFC career in which he won without being hit by a single significant strike. In fact, Holland did nothing at all. This is not an exaggeration. Look at FightMetric’s stats: zero attempted strikes, zero attempted takedowns, zero check times. No. Totally empty. Remove the Gilbert Burns brawl from the equation and Chimaev has now been hit with just one – I repeat, ONE (1) – significant strike in his other five UFC wins. This is all nonsense no matter how you slice it.
After the s-show of the past few days, there is very real concern around the UFC about Chimaev’s ability to make the 170-pound welterweight championship with any sort of consistency. Chimaev has imposed this problem on himself, and these questions will follow him until he can prove over and over that he really belongs in the weight class. But regardless of the division, it seems inevitable that he’s destined to hold some sort of UFC gold.
All conceptions of Chimaev fighting the winner of Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3 flew out the window with the way he acted last week, so instead there are only two obvious fights to make, according to the UFC feelings about his weight: Either Colby Covington or Robert Whittaker, for No. 1 contender status in the weight class he’s going to pursue.
Do it, UFC.
3. Li Jingliang got fucked harder than any of the Switcheroo Six at UFC 279, couldn’t show off his fancy new suit, fought a man 10 pounds heavier than him on notice of one day – a man with a completely different and much less sexy skill set of a name than his original opponent – and yet he still nearly got the win.
We’ve talked a lot about gangsters this week, but Jingliang? He’s a real thug.
Let’s hope the UFC rewards him for the win bonus he probably deserved in his split decision against Daniel Rodriguez on Saturday, because Lord knows this man earned every penny the UFC can give him after his ordeal. days.
4. Irene Aldana’s knockout kick to the liver on Macy Chiasson was absolutely sick. I legitimately think I’ve never seen anything like it before – almost like an ax kick with the trajectory she threw it. Even the UFC commentary desk and the Las Vegas crowd didn’t seem to understand what happened before the replays. Brutal stuff.
The women’s bantamweight is in desperate need of a worthy contender for Amanda Nunes, and Aldana fighting his way with a game opponent like Chiasson for seven minutes straight may have been enough to convince the UFC. that she is the next wife.
I still prefer a route to Nunes vs. Shechenko 3, but if Valentina Shevchenko isn’t interested, Nunes vs. Aldana wouldn’t be the worst consolation prize.
Looks like a new competitor. I mean 2 new suitors. Congratulations to both of you. #ufc279
— Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) September 11, 2022
5. Could Johnny Walker be fun again?
I’m cautiously optimistic after his four-minute antics about Ion Cutelaba.
The former contender was on borrowed time heading into UFC 279, a four-of-his-last-five loser who was nothing like the reckless madman who slipped a fight to challenge Jon Jones early in his UFC run. . Between bad losses and totally listless performances, Walker’s move to SBG Ireland to work under coach John Kavanagh had seemingly neutralized the traits that made the light heavyweight so damn intriguing. But Walker’s interview last week with my pal Guilherme Cruz? A revelation, to say the least.
It’s not uncommon for struggling athletes to cling in the dark, searching for a culprit to blame for their downward spiral. However, Walker’s description of three years of inadvertently drugging himself – he claims to be “extremely allergic” to THC – was shocking. Paranoia, panic attacks, schizophrenic episodes, visions of aliens experimenting on him – Walker said he dealt with them all. He even dipped back into the subject after the fight.
The 30-year-old Brazilian is the only one who knows how real this rhetoric is and how much is embellished, but it’s been almost three years since Walker looked as good as he did on Saturday, so if that’s what a lucid Johnny Walker can do it, which is good news for a 205-pound division that always needs strong young contenders.
6. I formally demand that the UFC open a super heavyweight division so that Chris Barnett can claim his rightful championship, because the man is a delight.
Not only did his big fight with Jake Collier wake up a UFC 279 undercard that had barely walked on water until then, Barnett also delivered one of the craziest comebacks of the year, summoning the strength of put Collier away with a second round salvothen cut a sincere promo and dance his way out of the arena under a rain of alcohol. All this despite a mutilated left eye and his jaw dropping almost to the ground. In the end, it was one of the most memorable scenes of the weekend, the kind of feel-good moment combat sports rarely gives us that leaves everyone smiling for a good five minutes afterwards without even to notice.
I mean, look at this man! Look how he’s having fun! How not to love it??
(Keep in mind, it’s the same big gorgeous boy who gave us this gem last year.)
Given the personal turmoil Barnett was forced to overcome in 2022 — his wife and the mother of his two children tragically passed away this summer — there are few people in MMA who deserve this kind of celebration more. So can we please just let “Huggy Bear” appear on (or around) every fight week from now on? Because the man is a natural performer, and I’m pretty sure he could be the greatest fighter of all time.
I hope one of you came to pick him up from the hospital.
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