UFC president Dana White was effusive in his praise of Nate Diaz during UFC 279 fight week. If one didn’t know better, White’s claims that he and the UFC wished Diaz nothing but the best in his future endeavors would almost come across as sincere and believable.
However, the UFC actions leading up to UFC 279 spoke much louder than the empty words White offered once the promotion’s plans collapsed under the 7.5 pounds Khamzat Chimaev was overweight when he checked in for his scheduled bout against Diaz.
Chimaev weight miss caused a reshuffling of the card. With that, Diaz faced Tony Ferguson at welterweight and Chimaev met Kevin Holland at a catchweight of 180 pounds. Chimaev ran over Holland, submitting him at 2:13 of the first round and blanking him on the stat sheet. Diaz, in what was his last fight with the UFC under his now expired contract, forced Ferguson to tap at the 2:52 mark of the fourth stanza.
The shake-up of the card allowed Diaz to walk away with a win and what seemed like sincere praise from White. Neither of those things was in the script the UFC wrote when it initially booked the fight between Chimaev and Diaz.
What the UFC wanted to do was send Diaz out of the promotion with a devastating defeat. The goal was to have Chimaev demolish Diaz in the octagon and devalue his name on the free market.
Seeing what Chimaev did to Holland, the odds are good that he would have defeated Diaz in a similar — if not more — dreadful manner. That result would have provided White the opportunity to sit at the dais at the post-fight press conference and gleefully stomp on Diaz’s name and reputation.
It’s not hard to imagine White saying something about it being time for Diaz to retire and how his record since 2016 and his UFC 279 performance showed that doesn’t belong among the elite of the UFC.
Chimaev, by missing weight, prevented the UFC’s dastardly, despicable and dirty plan from playing out. Just because that plan didn’t come to fruition doesn’t mean it wasn’t the goal.
One thing Chimaev didn’t prevent was the message the promotion sent to other name fighters who might toy with the idea of being as audacious as Diaz about testing free agency. That message was clearly sent. If you tell us you’re going to leave the promotion before your last fight with us, be prepared to walk out the door under the worst possible circumstances.