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UFC 279: Chimaev vs. Diaz preview - A title eliminator in the early prelims?

Get the dirt on the early preliminary action of UFC 279, featuring a potential title eliminator at women’s featherweight as Norma Dumont looks to spoil the debut of former Olympic boxing hopeful Danyelle Wolf.

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Norma Dumont kicking Macy Chiasson at UFC 274
Norma Dumont kicking Macy Chiasson at UFC 274
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

For UFC 278, I didn’t hold back. I stated that I believed the PPV was subpar compared to the other PPV cards the UFC ran this year. Compared to UFC 279, at least on paper, UFC 278 looked like it would be in contention for card of the year.

Let me put it this way: the contest that appears to have the most immediate impact on a potential title fight is on the early prelims. I understand that makes it sound like it’s a stacked PPV without any context, but once it is known it’s the women’s featherweight belt I’m talking about, anyone who understands anything about the divisional makeups of the UFC know the sad state of that division. For those of you who aren’t aware of what I mean, one of those competitors has one career MMA fight under their belt. Not one UFC fight; one MMA fight.

That isn’t to crap on the early preliminary fights for UFC 279; they are what they are supposed to be. It’s the rest of the card moving upward that is lacking the requisite depth. Regardless, if you’re like me, you’re tuning in anyway. After all, it’s fights....

  • It’s been two years since the UFC opted to sign Danyelle Wolf to a contract based on her DWCS win. Most would agree signing Wolf to a contract when that was her only MMA fight was doing Wolf a major disservice. However, that two-year absence was to give Wolf time to develop. Plus, the former Olympic boxing hopeful is fighting at 145, a division many believe the UFC should abolish due to a several lack of depth. Regardless of the weakness of the division, Norma Dumont has proven she’s a UFC caliber fighter with the ability to hang in there both standing and on the mat. Given Wolf’s world is the standup, it’s hard to believe Dumont won’t look to expose her ground game. Then again, Wolf demonstrated some solid takedown defense in her DWCS bout and Dumont, though a solid grappler, has struggled to get the fight on the ground when that’s her goal. Despite that, it’s not like it’s strictly a boxing match if it stays standing. The threat of the takedown changes the dynamic and that doesn’t bode well for Wolf. Dumont via decision
  • By all reason and logic, Chad Anheliger never should have made it to the UFC. He opened his MMA career 2-5, necessitating eight wins in a row before getting his chance on DWCS to finally make it to the big dance. Even getting to that point was a minor miracle as Anheliger was 34 in a division particularly harsh towards aging. Throw in it was a close split decision that got him into the organization – something Uncle Dana doesn’t typically award – and he’s defied all the odds. Anheliger isn’t a special athlete, nor is he a gifted wrestler who wears down his opponent by embracing the grind. He’s just a tough-as-nails vet with some power who tends to out grit and outwit the opposition. That tends to work well against fighters light on experience. That doesn’t describe Heili Alateng in the least. Alateng isn’t exactly the most gifted fighter himself, but Anheliger is hardly guaranteed a win if this turns into a war of attrition. In fact, given Anheliger’s weakness to takedowns coupled with Alateng’s underrated wrestling and I’d say Alateng would be favored in that contest. Anheliger delivering a KO can’t be discounted – especially given Alateng’s poor defense — but I would expect Alateng emerging successful in a grimy decision is the most likely outcome. Alateng via decision
  • I’m probably coming across as a hater, but I was not a fan of the UFC signing Melissa Martinez. Not that she doesn’t have potential, but the undefeated Mexican product is still very young and built up her record by smashing a bunch of cans. The one win she has against a decent opponent has been panned near universally as a bad decision. At the very least, an appearance on DWCS would have made me feel better about her joining the roster. As it is, she’s the perfect type of stylistic matchup for Elise Reed to spoil Martinez’s welcome party. Reed has struggled with her opponent’s physicality, but that isn’t something she’ll need to worry about with Martinez. Martinez has a strong striking foundation herself, but hasn’t been fully vetted against decent competition. For as much of a limited ceiling as Reed possesses, she has been tested and proven to have the grit and mettle needed to overcome a youth with greater upside. I like Reed’s striking prowess to allow her to outwork the UFC’s latest hope out of Mexico. Reed via decision
  • The ceiling of Yohan Lainesse is limited, but he still has enough potential to be a fun action fighting gatekeeper. All of that is dependent on Lainesse landing one of his haymakers. Of course, while that’s also an indication of how one-dimensional Lainesse is, it should also be seen as a compliment towards just how much the heavy-handed Canadian is. There’s reason to believe Darian Weeks is capable of hanging in there if the fight devolves into a brawl, but it would appear more likely the 28-year-old is going to make every attempt to put Lainesse on his back. To be fair to Lainesse, he isn’t a terrible wrestler himself, but he has a very short gas tank. Weeks is still finding his way – he probably joined the UFC too soon for his own good – but he’s shown the ability to do a little bit of everything and with a superior gas tank to Lainesse by a wide margin. Throw in Weeks’ overall athletic advantage and that’s enough for me to favor Weeks, though one clean shot from Lainesse could ruin many a bettors’ night. Weeks via TKO of RD2

UPDATE:

LIVE! Watch UFC 279 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

BLOCKBUSTER WELTERWEIGHT SHOWDOWN! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Sept. 10, 2022, with a must-watch updated Welterweight thriller that will see perennial fan favorite, Nate Diaz now battles former top-ranked Lightweight contender, Tony Ferguson, who will return to the 170-pound weight class for this last minute, upgraded assignment. Meanwhile, In UFC 279’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, we now get the undefeated No. 3-ranked contender, Khamzat Chimaev, opposite Kevin ‘Trailblazer’ Holland.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!