LAS VEGAS - Nate Diaz scored a fourth-round submission win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 279 on Saturday (Sept 10), winning the last fight of his UFC deal in a wild bout that capped off an extraordinary week for the UFC.
A backstage brawl caused Thursday's press conference to be cut short, and the card was thrown into disarray on Friday morning when Khamzat Chimaev missed the welterweight limit for his proposed main event fight against Diaz.
That miss forced a reshuffle that saw Ferguson step up to meet Diaz while Chimaev took on Kevin Holland and Li Jingliang faced off against Daniel Rodriguez, but the rescheduled main event did not disappoint.
The 37-year-old Diaz picked Ferguson apart for the first three rounds before grabbing a guillotine choke in the fourth to end the fight in front of a sold-out crowd at the T-Mobil Arena.
The fan favourite from Stockton, California opened a cut above Ferguson's right eye in the second as his pin-point boxing started to tell.
Ferguson fought back, chopping at the lead leg of Diaz to slow him down, but Diaz was still able to land his combinations to force his opponent back and he played with the crowd, strolling around the cage and leaning against it to take a break.
Ferguson shot for a takedown in the fourth round but Diaz, who submitted Conor McGregor to hand the Irishman his first loss in the UFC in 2016, circled his arm around Ferguson's neck and dragged him to the ground to secure the win.
"I want to get out of the UFC for a minute and show these UFC fighters how to take over and own another sport.. I'm gonna go out there, take over another profession... and then I'll be right back here to get a UFC title," Diaz said in the octagon.
Chechen-born Swede Chimaev was roundly booed as he entered the octagon but once the fight was underway he wasted no time, shooting for a takedown and initiating a serious of furious wrestling scrambles that ended in his favour.
The 28-year-old dominated Holland on the mat before securing the victory by locking in a Darce choke and forcing his opponent to tap at the 2min 13sec mark in the first round, much to the displeasure of the crowd.
"I'm the most dangerous guy here. I'm coming for everyone. I kill everyone, I'm going to go through everyone, no-one can stop me!" a defiant Chimaev roared in his post-fight interview as the boos rolled down from the stands. REUTERS