I like chaos in sports. I enjoy when the status quo gets put on its head or deposited on its ass. I especially relish when the powers that be fail to get what the outcome they want.
With that, a Nate Diaz win in the main event of UFC 279 would be a wonderful outcome because it would bring a level of mayhem to the fight card — and to the sport itself — that is a delight to contemplate.
The UFC’s matchmaking of Chimaev vs Diaz was widely criticized when the promotion announced the fight. Former UFC title challenger Dan Hardy said, “It doesn’t feel like a fair fight. It feels like a very, very cruel thing to do to someone that is a legitimate legend. Because they’ve spoken out against the organization, they’re going to get executed live on TV. That’s kind of how it feels, and it makes me feel uncomfortable to think that’s the way it’s going to go down.”
Former two-division UFC champ and current UFC commentator Daniel Cormier also disapproved of the booking, saying, “ I think these guys are in different points of their careers right now, and I believe it’s a mismatch.”
Current UFC welterweight champion, Leon Edwards, who bested Diaz via decision in June 2021, thought the promotion could have done a better job in booking Diaz, “He’s done so much for the company and I wish they gave him a veteran, a nice fight to bow out to. To give an up-and-coming guy that’s had four or five fights in the UFC, and a wrestler guy as well – I think they f—ked up. They should’ve gave him a better fight,” said Edwards.
The reality of the situation is the UFC rarely gives veteran fighters a soft touch in their last fight with the promotion. When that fighter is leaving the UFC to explore free agency — which is what Diaz is doing — the UFC is almost certain to give that fighter the toughest fight it can and that’s what the UFC did with Diaz.
And that’s why I am hoping Diaz can pull off the upset win at UFC 279. It’s not because I have a specific fighter I’m rooting for on Saturday, but because I don’t want the promotion to get what it wants. In short, I want Diaz to bring pandemonium to the evening.
So, what if Diaz wins? What’s the fallout?
Chimaev, who was already the biggest loser of UFC 278 without even competing, will get pilloried by fair weather fans and likely face a precipitous fall in the official UFC rankings. Leon Edwards will likely forget about a potential rematch with Kamaru Usman and begin to work on convincing Diaz to stay with the UFC for one more fight — and a title fight at that. The UFC will probably send some employees out to secure an armored car it can load up with bags full of hundreds it can then drop on Diaz’s driveway like so much fake snow on Sunday morning. UFC president Dana White is liable to turn a shade of red that will have the folks at Pantone wondering if it should consider it for color of the year for 2023.
And Diaz? What will he do if he gets his hand raised?
Will he tell a gobsmacked Joe Rogan that he’s once again not surprised, raise two middle fingers to the air and walk out of T-Mobile Arena to celebrate somewhere in Las Vegas with the Nick Diaz Army? Will he name his price to stick around and fight Edwards for the title and then Conor McGregor after that in a trilogy bout? Will he head back home to Stockton and have every promotion interested in his services give their best pitch and make everyone await his next move? Will he just point and laugh at White and the UFC brass who so badly wanted to send him out of the promotion with an embarrassing defeat?
We all have an inkling of what will happen if Chimaev wins, that’s not the case with Diaz. We have no clue what will happen if he pulls off the seemingly unthinkable and defeats Chimaev.
And that’s why I want Diaz to win, because chaos and the Diaz brothers, well, they go hand in hand and we need one more trip down that road. For old time’s sake.