'I'm going to handle Nate Diaz's funeral with UFC' - Khamzat Chimaev on huge UFC 279 clash

UFC confirm fighters have verbally agreed to the bout, as Diaz sees out his current contract with the promotion

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A mouth-watering match-up between Nate Diaz and Khamzat Chimaev is to headline UFC 279 in September.

ESPN reported the news late on Tuesday, with UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell telling the outlet that both fighters have verbally agreed to the bout. Contracts have not yet been signed. The clash will headline the September 10 card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

One of the most popular fighters in the sport, Diaz has been campaigning for much of the past year for the UFC to book the final fight on his contract. ESPN reported that discussions had taken place regarding a new deal, but that Diaz, 37, was adamant he wanted to leave the company for now.

The American, whose professional record reads 20-13, last fought in June last year – a decision defeat to welterweight title challenger Leon Edwards. Zach Rosenfield, Diaz's representative, told ESPN on Tuesday that Chimaev “is a fight Nate has been asking for since the middle of April”.

Meanwhile, Chimaev has become one of the sport’s marquee names despite making his debut in July 2020, during Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The Chechnyan-born athlete, who fights out of Sweden, is 11-0 as a pro, and most recently came through a Fight of the Year Contender against Gilbert Burns at UFC 273 in April. Chimaev is 5-0 in the UFC, with three of those wins coming in the UAE capital.

In a statement provided to ESPN on Tuesday, Chimaev said: “I am going to handle Nate Diaz's funeral with the UFC.”

Given developments, the bantamweight title bout between champion Aljamain Sterling and TJ Dillashaw has been moved from UFC 279. Reports suggest Sterling-Dillashaw could now take place at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi on October 22, though the UFC has yet to confirm.

Updated: July 20, 2022, 10:03 AM