Li Jingliang will face a fan favorite and one of the most eccentric figures in MMA at UFC 279. He has been booked to take on Tony Ferguson in Las Vegas on September 10th.

Jingliang is coming off an impressive win over Muslim Salikhov. He stopped ‘the King of Kung Fu’ in the second round at UFC on ABC 3 but prior to that he had been submitted by undefeated welterweight prospect Khamzat Chimaev.

Jingliang appeared on The MMA Hour and was asked if he thought Nate Diaz could pull off the upset when he faces Chimaev in the UFC 279 headliner.

He gives the UFC veteran a chance and questions how Chimaev will cope in his first five round fight,

“I can’t give you a number about the chance (of Diaz winning) but we all know, based on the statistics and the data, Khamzat is the favorite Nate is the underdog but I think Khamzat has never fought in a five-round fight.”

X factor

Diaz has been on the UFC roster since 2007 but still has a reputation for being an unpredictable wild man. Jingliang could see him pulling off a late comeback like the one very he nearly scored over Leon Edwards,

“Another big X factor is Nate Diaz is Nate Diaz and you don’t know what happens if the fight goes to the fifth round and the last minute and last seconds if you fight with Nate Diaz. What we really need is a miracle, is a surprise in the fight, and I believe Nate Diaz is the guy that can give you this,” he said

The welterweight title changed hands in memorable fashion at UFC 278 last month. Leon Edwards was down on the score cards and on track for a decision defeat when he finished Kamaru Usman with a head kick in the final round.

It was one of the most dramatic endings to a title fight in UFC history but Jingliang says he always knew Edwards was capable of pulling off something like that,

“I said to my boxing coach before that fight, I think Leon has a chance to knock out Kamaru Usman and then what happens in the fight? We all know Kamaru Usman is a very well-rounded fighter, but I think most people underestimate how good Leon is at striking, and like I said, anything can happen at any moment in this sport.”

Self belief

He thinks this was a timely reminder that no matter what the odds are anything can happen inside the octagon,

“It doesn’t matter if you are an underdog in other’s eyes. You have to trust in yourself and fight for your family, no matter who you fight against. If you are in the octagon, you are 50/50.”

Ferguson will be competing at welterweight for the first time since 2011 when he makes the walk to fight the Chinese star. The former interim 155lbs champion is struggling for form having endured four straight losses.

Before this run of results he had never even lost two in a row. Having bounced back to win after all five of his UFC defeats Jingliang understands the situation that Ferguson is in.

For the Chinese fighter it is important to have self belief and to trust the process,

“I always trust myself, I always have confidence about myself since day one in the UFC, before each fight. No matter win or lose, even for the Khamzat fight. I know that night, he was the better guy than me. But that’s the sport. We should learn from our failures, the losses, but we should believe and have confidence in ourselves, always.”