LAS VEGAS — The UFC has completely changed the first three fights on its UFC 279 card, one day before the scheduled pay-per-view event, UFC president Dana White told SportsCenter in a live Instagram video Friday.
Nate Diaz Now facing Tony Ferguson in the main event of Saturday’s show at the T-Mobile Arena. Diaz’s original enemy, Kamsad Simev, lost 7.5 pounds Friday morning, coming in at 178.5 pounds for the 171-pound-limit match. Diaz understandably didn’t want to fight such an overweight opponent.
White said Simaev started cramping and locking up during his weight loss.
“It wasn’t a coincidence that we put guys at the same weight on the same card in case something went wrong. It worked,” White said. “It’s a little difficult sometimes to get these guys to agree to different fights. We’ve done everything. We’re locked in.”
Sime’s weight loss set off a chain reaction. The UFC spent the morning and afternoon negotiating with all six camps over the changes. Changes on this scale are unprecedented so close to a UFC card.
Ferguson, a fan favorite like Diaz, was scheduled to fight Li Jingliang The main event is Saturday. Ferguson weighed in at 170.5 pounds for the fight.
Diaz vs. Ferguson will be five rounds. Diaz was scheduled for five rounds with Simaev, but Ferguson vs. There will be only three li. Ferguson agreed to a five-round fight against Diaz.
“Nate Diaz and Tony, the fans always want to see this,” White said. “It happens now before Nate leaves the UFC. It couldn’t have played out better.”
Now, Simev will take over Kevin Holland In the UFC 279 co-headliner. Set as Holland’s original enemy Daniel Rodriguez in a 180-pound catchweight bout. Holland weighed in at 179.5 pounds Friday morning. Holland-Cimeau will also be a five-round match.
Li, who weighed in at 170.5 pounds on Friday, will now fight Rodriguez. Rodriguez came in at 179 pounds, so there will be a big weight gap.
Simev, 28, is one of the UFC’s biggest rising stars and is a -1000 favorite over Diaz, according to Caesars Sportsbook. The UFC booked the fight mainly to pit Simaev against a big star in Diaz, who was expected to win. Diaz is in the final fight of his UFC contract and has indicated that this could be his last fight.
Chimew had a strange week. He got into a verbal spat with the middleweight Paulo Costa At the UFC Performance Institute on Wednesday, and before the UFC 279 news conference on Thursday, he clashed with Holland. Simaev kicked Holland during a backstage brawl. Eventually the press conference was cancelled.
When Simev weighed in Friday morning, he shrugged and showed no remorse for the massive loss. Later, he posted a meme on Twitter joking about losing weight.