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Khamzat Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz set to headline UFC 279

ESPN reports that the welterweight bout has been verbally agreed on by both parties, for a five-round, non-title fight main event.

It looks like Nate Diaz is finally getting his wish. The former Ultimate Fighter winner and lightweight title contender has been calling for the UFC to give him the last fight on his current contract with the promotion for months, so that he can test the waters of free agency. ESPN now reports that final booking is all but finalized.

Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell told the UFC broadcast partner that a bout between Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz has been verbally agreed upon. The fight would serve as the main event for the upcoming UFC 279 PPV on September 10th in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The bout’s been one the promotion has been chasing since fall of last year, following Chimaev’s victory over Li Jingliang. After that win, the Chechen sent a message through the assembled media, “Hey, Diaz, let’s go, brother. Let’s go. You gonna get some smoke, bro. Let’s see who is the real gangster.”

Diaz seemed dismissive of the callout at the time. But a victory for ‘Borz’ over top contender Gilbert Burns back in April, along with Diaz’s growing interest in a boxing match against Jake Paul—and the ongoing contract struggles with the UFC that that’s caused—appear to have changed the tune.

The welterweight bout had apparently initially been targeted by the promotion for their UFC 276 PPV, headlined by Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier. However, Diaz claims that each offer he’s received for a fight from the UFC has come with a new contract extension attached as well, one that he wasn’t interested in signing.

“They want me to fight Conor. I’m not fighting Conor McGregor right now,” Diaz said in a recent interview on the MMA Hour. “Our timelines aren’t matching up. ... You bring yourself back to life, and I’ll be back later.”

Hopefully all that is water under the bridge and fans can finally get to see the Cesar Gracie black belt back in the Octagon one last time before he makes a move over to other pugilistic opportunities. And for Chimaev, Diaz may just be the last stop on his trip to title contention and a chance to face the winner of Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards, which goes down at UFC 278 on August 20th.