Things didn’t exactly go according to pan at the UFC 279 press conference yesterday. It was abandoned following a backstage brawl involving Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland and the Diaz brothers.

The weigh ins did not go any smoother. Chimaev missed wight by 7.5lbs for his welterweight bout with Diaz and was immediately pulled from the main event.

Instead the undefeated Swedish star will be taking on Kevin Holland in the c0-main event. Having got into an altercation backstage during fight week the two men will now get to settle their differences inside the octagon.

Tony Ferguson will now be facing Nate Diaz in the UFC 279 main event. It pits together two TUF veterans who have both been on the roster for over a decade.

So where does that leave Ferguson’s original opponent, Jingliang Li? He will be moving up 10lbs to fight Daniel Rodriguez in a move that has certainly enhanced the Chinese welterweight’s reputation:

Weight difference

Holland and Rodriguez had originally been booked to face off in a catchweight contest that was set for 180lbs. The other rearranged fights were all at welterweight which means Jingliang is taking on an opponent who outweighs him significantly.

Holland tipped the scales at 179lbs ahead of his catchweight fight with Holland. Meanwhile Jingliang weighed in at 170.5lbs, just inside the welterweight limit, ahead of his bout with Ferguson.

 

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A post shared by Li Jingliang (@lijingliangmma)

Eventful week

Jingliang (19-7) has effectively accepted a fight against a much larger fighter who is more of a threat but nowhere near as big a name as his original opponent. Rodriguez (16-2) might be unranked but he has won six out of his seven UFC fights.

It has been an eventful week for the Chinese welterweight who has made friends with former opponent Chimaev and had a front row seat for the backstage melee yesterday. Afterwards he stated on Instagram that the fighters who were trading blows and throwing water bottles yesterday should have waited until fight night:

 

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A post shared by Li Jingliang (@lijingliangmma)

Even odds

One person who might feel a bit better about how the situation has played out is Nate Diaz. He was a massive underdog against Chimaev in what will be the final fight on his UFC contract.

Instead of facing the hottest prospect on the roster he finds himself matched with a fellow veteran who is not on good form. Ferguson (25-7) has lost his last four and hasn’t won a fight since 2019.

Diaz (20-13) has lost his last two and hasn’t tasted victory since 2019 either. Whereas he was a massive underdog against Chimaev the odds for his fight with Ferguson are close to even.

 

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Best of the rest

As previously announced Heili Alateng will be making his pay per view debut on this card. The Chinese bantamweight has been booked to face Chad Anheliger at UFC 279 and both men made weight.

Alateng is coming off the most impressive win of his career. At UFC Vegas 51 he stopped Kevin Croom in just 47 seconds, the first time he had finished a fight inside the distance since his Road FC days.

Anheliger  cored a split decision win over ONE Championship veteran Muin Gafurov on Dana White’s Contender Series to earn a spot on the roster. The Canadian stopped Jesse Strader on his UFC debut to take his winning streak to ten.

UFC 279, Las Vegas, September 10th
Tony Ferguson  vs. Nate Diaz (Welterweight)
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Kevin Holland (Catchweight)
Jingliang Li vs. Daniel Rodriguez (Welterweight)
Trey Ogden vs. Daniel Zellhuber (Lightweight)
Nikolas Motta vs. Cameron VanCamp (Lightweight)
Danyelle Wolf vs. Norma Dumont (Featherweight)
Louis Cosce vs. Trevin Giles Welterweight)
Daniel da Silva vs. Victor Altamirano (Flyweight)
Irene Aldana vs. Macy Chiasson (Bantamweight)
Elise Reed vs. Mellisa Martinez (Strawweight)
Jamie Pickett vs. Denis Tiuliulin (Middleweight)
Alateng Heili vs. Chad Anheilger (Bantamweight)