In the main event of UFC 279 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night, Tony Ferguson will take on Nate Diaz after Khamzat Chimaev failed to make weight. If you're looking for bets on this one, you're going to want to read what we have to say. We're breaking down the best matches on the card and we're feeling confident in our picks for this one.
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UFC 279 Betting Guide - Featured Fights and Favorite Bets
Daniel Rodriguez vs. Li Jingliang - Catchweight Bout
The third fight altered due to Khamzat’s antics sees Daniel Rodriguez (16-2) taking on Li Jingliang (19-7). Rodriguez will be delighted with this change as going from a long and rangy Kevin Holland at 180 pounds to undersized Li Jingliang at 170 pounds is a massive downgrade. Rodriguez is coming into this fight on a three-fight win streak, relying on his crisp striking to carry him to these victories. At 35 years old, this fortunate break may be just what he needs to springboard his career.
Up steps Jingliang. I really feel sorry for this man. He went from facing a "washed up" Ferguson as a massive favorite to facing a man with a much less known name, and comes in at a severe size disadvantage. He made weight, got a custom suit for the canceled press conference and is left staring at Rodriguez.
Jingliang holds a respectable 11-5 UFC record, but is not used to this size discrepancy and relies on rigorous study of his opponents for success. He’ll have a two-inch reach disadvantage and will likely be looking like the significantly smaller man in the cage on Saturday night.
Coming in as a playable -165 favorite, Daniel Rodriguez will have to be the pick. He will be able to put his size advantage to work, keep the pressure-heavy Jingliang off him and walk away from all this chaos with another win on his record, and one step closer to a title shot.
PICK: Rodriguez To Win (-165 at BetMGM)
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Kevin Holland — Catchweight Bout
In the co-main event of the evening Khamzat Chimaev (11-0) will be taking on Kevin ‘Big Mouth’ Holland (23-7) at 180 pounds. As his name suggests, Holland’s big mouth is what likely caused this fight to be created, as the Thursday press conference was canceled over a behind-the-scenes fight with Khamzat. Now, both fighters have a chance to duke it out for real in this five-round battle. Holland had a fantastic 2019 going 5-0, but has since dropped off going 2-2-1 since. He knows this is a massive opportunity handed to him, and will be certain not to let it slip.
Having a big mouth is one thing, but having the skills to back it up is another. Holland definitely has those. His striking, wrestling and jiu jitsu have few holes in them, leaving his opponents searching for a way to create damage.
Chimaev is the reason for all these changes to the card. On Friday afternoon, he missed weight by almost 10 pounds, smiling throughout the process. He definitely lost more than a few fans over his antics, but he is still a very dangerous mixed martial artist. Similar to Holland, Khamzat burst onto the scene in 2020, going 5-0 to start his UFC career. Looking to ride that hype to a title shot, Khamzat found an easy match-up with Diaz and then threw it away.
This is going to be a close fight. Khamzat is coming in as a -450 favorite, and Holland as a +350 underdog. Khamzat is used to being the larger opponent, a luxury he will not have with Holland, and this will hurt his pressure-focused style. I’m not saying Holland is going to steamroll Khamzat, but at +350 he is certainly worth a look. In short, Kevin Holland gets rocked and dropped in the first round, but survives and grinds out a tight decision win.
PICK: Holland To Win (+350)
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UFC 279 MAIN EVENT: Tony Ferguson vs. Nate Diaz - Welterweight Bout
In the retirement fight we have all been waiting for, Tony Ferguson (26-7) is taking on Nate Diaz (21-13) in the main event of the evening. This fight got created at the last minute, due to Khamzat weighing in 8.5 pounds over the 170-pound Welterweight limit, leaving Diaz without an opponent.
Diaz is an absolute dog and will be relishing the decrease in the caliber of his opponent. Diaz is always down for a good scrap in the standup, but his path to victory here may lie in taking this fight to the ground. Diaz has an outstanding ground game with over half his career wins coming via submission, and should be putting these skills to use against Ferguson.
Ferguson is one of the greatest UFC fighters to never win an undisputed UFC belt, often due to unfortunate circumstances, but the UFC gods gave him some redemption with this last minute opponent switch.
The striking ability of Ferguson will be too much for Diaz in this contest, and his chin will allow him to take any of the punishment his opponent brings him. I believe this bout will be determined by the cardio, and the strategy of each fighter. Both fighters rarely get finished, and with this being a five-round fight, whoever can outlast and out-strategize their opponent will be getting their hand raised on Saturday night.
If Diaz had been given time to train and prepare for Ferguson, I would be picking him in this fight. However, given the circumstances, I foresee Diaz coming out and throwing caution to the wind and brawling Ferguson, which will not go well for him. In short, you'll want to make sure you take Ferguson as the slight favorite in the main event, as his advantage will grow as the fight progresses and he should win in an increasingly wide decision.
PICK: Ferguson To Win (-140)