UFC 279 takeaways: Nate Diaz’s unbelievably perfect escape, plus Khamzat Chimaev’s conundrum and more

Nate Diaz he came out unharmed. After a wild and chaotic week, the Stockton native son exited the UFC with a fourth-round submission from Tony Ferguson in UFC 279The impromptu main event. The performance capped off an explosive billboard that also saw Khamzat Chimaev truck through kevin holland, a new name emerges in the mix of women’s bantamweight titles, and much more. With so much to discuss, let’s look at our six biggest takeaways from UFC 279.

1. Happy endings are few and far between in MMA. Hell, aside from Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St-Pierre, there really aren’t many great examples I can think of.

You know who wasn’t supposed to join that list? Nathan Diaz.

Heading into UFC 279 fight week, anyone paying attention knew the outcome. Stockton’s fighting pride, the eternal thorn in the side of the UFC, the superstar who doesn’t move the needles, was to be fed into the machine on his way out, a sacrifice at the altar of Khamzat Chimaev for having the nerve. try to do the right thing by yourself. Sky-high odds as lopsided as 10 to 1 were being posted online and terms like “attempted murder” were thrown around. It was all so brazen, so disgusting. However, we all collectively nodded our heads and understood: This is how it has to be. When it comes to the UFC, the house always wins.

Only the house didn’t 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 unbelievably perfect escape — an escape so pristine it would have felt ridiculous just 72 hours ago — and Diaz didn’t miss a beat. He bent, twisted and took advantage of the chaos surrounding UFC 279 to make it exactly the kind of send-off he deserved after 15 years of service in the UFC, most of which he spent underrated and underpaid. Fighting his way out the door with a fully blocked guillotine and barely a scratch on his face? No, that was never supposed to be the plan, but the MMA gods work in mysterious ways.

Diaz is now a free man fresh off a pay-per-view win who will attract more interest than any other free agent to hit the market in MMA history, and he’s not particularly close. After all the snubs, after all the acrimonious firings, contract mumbo jumbo, and endless legal jargon, he finally got to his promised land, and he didn’t have to compromise himself or his health to get there.

It is a beautiful thing.

Of course, this is not goodbye. far from there Wherever he ends up next, Diaz is about to rattle off one, if not several, of the biggest paydays of his career. Jake Paul will probably be involved in one of those, but who knows where else he could lead? Remember, 209 is about getting into the promotion game. Perhaps there will be an eventual joint promotion in the future between Real Fight, Inc. and McGregor Sports & Entertainment?

Nothing is off the table now.

That was going to be true regardless of what happened at UFC 279, but if the laugh factory of Saturday’s post-fight press conference was any indication, things taste a little sweeter when the evil of the house is seen. frustrated and the little man comes out unscathed.

A proper way out.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

two. Love him or hate him, Khamzat Chimaev remains one of the scariest fighters in the entire 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 showed disdain for the fans in multiple turns. He missed weight by an entire division and made no apologies for it, to the point where even Joe Rogan was shocked at his flippancy in his post-fight interview. All in all, he will likely leave UFC 279 as MMA’s new number one villain. But guess that? None of that matters, because once he steps foot in the cage, the man is a real demon.

Chimaev ran through Kevin Holland like it was the easiest task in the world. His effortless two-minute submission marked the fourth time in Chimaev’s UFC career that he won without being hit by a single significant punch. In fact, the Netherlands did nothing at all. That is not an exaggeration. Look at the FightMetric stats: zero attack attempts, zero takedown attempts, zero control time. Any. Totally blank. Take the Gilbert Burns fight out of the equation and Chimaev has now been hit with only one, I repeat, ONE (1), significant strike in his other five UFC wins. This is all nonsense, no matter how you look at it.

After the spectacle of the past few days, there is a very real concern in the UFC about Chimaev’s ability to make it to the 170-pound welterweight championship with any sort of consistency. Chimaev put that problem on himself, and those questions will follow him until he can prove repeatedly that he really does belong in the weight class. But regardless of the division, it feels inevitable that he is destined for some form of UFC gold.

Any design of Chimaev fighting the winner of Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3 flew out the window with the way he performed last week, so there are only two obvious fights to make, depending on the UFC’s feelings on his weight: Colby Covington or Robert Whittaker, for No. 1 of whatever weight class you’re going to chase.

Do it, UFC.

3. Li Jingliang was fucked harder than any of the Switcheroo Six at UFC 279, he couldn’t show off his fancy new suit, he fought a man who was 10 pounds heavier than him a day early – a man with a completely different skill set. and much less sexy. of a name than his original opponent, and still almost achieved victory.

Here’s hoping the UFC makes up for the win bonus he likely deserved in his split decision against Daniel Rodriguez on Saturday, because God knows the man has earned every penny the UFC can give him after the ordeal of the past few days. .

UFC 279 press conference

Seriously, look at this suit.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Four. Irene Aldana’s liver KO over Macy Chiasson was absolutely sick. Legitimately, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before, almost like an ax kick with the trajectory she threw. Even the UFC commentary table 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 contender worth elevating for Amanda Nunes, and Aldana had her way with an opponent of the game like Chiasson for seven straight minutes and it may have been enough to convince the UFC that she’s next. woman.

I still prefer a path to Nunes vs. Shechenko 3, but if Valentina Shevchenko is not interested, Nunes vs. Aldana wouldn’t be the worst consolation prize.

5. Is it possible for Johnny Walker to be funny again?

I’m cautiously optimistic after his four-minute romp 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 happy-go-lucky lunatic who snuck away just one fight from challenging Jon Jones in the early stages of his career in UFC. Between bad defeats and completely apathetic performances, Walker’s move to SBG Ireland to work under manager John Kavanagh he had seemingly neutralized the traits that made the light heavyweight so intriguing. But Walker’s interview last week with my friend Guilherme Cruz? Revealing, to say the least.

It’s not uncommon for struggling athletes to cling to the darkness, searching for someone to blame for their downward spiral. However, Walker’s description of three years of inadvertently getting high (he claims to be “extremely allergic” to THC) was jarring. Paranoia, panic attacks, schizophrenic episodes, visions of aliens experimenting on him: Walker said he dealt with them all. He even dived back into the subject after the fight.

The 30-year-old Brazilian is the only one who knows how much of that rhetoric is real and how much is embellished, but it’s been nearly three years since Walker has looked as good as he did on Saturday, so if this is what he’s got clear eyes for. Johnny Walker is capable of, that’s good news for a 205-pound division that always needs compelling 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 thrilled.

His big fight with Jake Collier not only sparked a previous UFC 279 card that was barely treading water up to that point, but Barnett also delivered one of the craziest comebacks of the year, mustering the strength to finish off Collier with a second-round salvoafter cutting a candid promo Y dancing his way out of the arena under a rain of alcohol. All despite having his left eye shattered and his jaw almost dropped to the ground. In the end, it was one of the most memorable scenes of the weekend, the kind of feel-good moment that fight sports rarely gives us that leaves everyone smiling for five minutes without even realizing it.

I mean, look at this man! Look how much fun he is having! How can you not like it?

(Note that this is the same gorgeous big guy who gave us this gem last year.)

Considering the personal turmoil Barnett was forced to overcome in 2022 (his wife and mother of his two children tragically passed away this summer), there are few people in MMA more deserving of this kind of celebration. So can we just let “Huggy Bear” appear in (or around) every fight week from here on out? Because the man is a natural actor, and I’m pretty sure he could be the greatest boxer of all time.

hopefully one of you picked him up from the hospital.

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