UFC 279: Nate Diaz bids farewell to UFC with superb win but vows to return to take title

Hugely popular American coy on what comes next after defeating Tony Ferguson in Las Vegas on Sunday

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Nate Diaz says he is leaving the UFC to “take over another organisation”, but promised to return to the world's lead mixed martial arts promotion in future to finally claim a title.

The American, a huge fan favourite, defeated Tony Ferguson in the headline bout at UFC 279 at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday morning, submitting his opponent by fourth-round guillotine.

Diaz, who was originally to fight Khamzat Chimaev only for the Chechen-born Swede to miss weight on Friday, was contesting the final bout on his current UFC contract.

Immediately after the hugely popular victory, Diaz told Joe Rogan inside the octagon that he was grateful to the UFC's top brass, saying: “At the end of the day, I love the UFC. Shout out to Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, and Hunter Campbell for giving the opportunities and the platforms the whole time for everybody, and for myself.

“I want to get out of the UFC for a minute and show all these UFC fighters how to take over and own up another sport how you’re supposed to do it. Because Conor McGregor didn’t know how to do it, and none of these other fighters know how to do it."

Diaz added: “I’m going to go out there and I’m going to take over another profession and become the best at that, show everybody I’m the best at that. And then I’m going to be right back here to get a UFC title. The best title in the world.”

Diaz, 37, has competed in the UFC since 2005. The Stockton, California native has already detailed plans to launch his own promotion – Real Fight, Inc – while he has not ruled out crossing over into boxing.

“I outdid everybody on pay, I outdid everybody on surviving,” Diaz said of his time in the UFC. “I’ll show everybody how to own another sport. So all you [expletive] out there trying to run another sport - boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, other MMA organisations - if you think you’re the top? Creme de la creme right here. I’m coming for you.”

With the victory against Ferguson, Diaz moves to 20-14 in pro MMA, with his record within the UFC at 15-12. He took on Ferguson, another seasoned veteran, at one day’s notice following a frantic Friday for the UFC.

Chimaev, an overwhelming favourite to defeat Diaz, came in seven and a half pounds over the welterweight limit.

At the post-fight press conference, Diaz did not hold back in his assessment of Chimaev, but said of Ferguson: “Just respect. He been fighting a while. Fought a lot of good people, had a lot of good performances. Put on a lot of crazy fights, taken a lot of damage.

“It’s just respect. It’s the toughest job in the world. That guy should be a hundred millionaire.”

Although he would not be drawn on his next move, Diaz did say he is interested in next month’s boxing bout between former UFC champion Anderson Silva and YouTube star Jake Paul.

“Jake Paul and Anderson Silva - get me some ringside seats,” Diaz said.

In UFC 279’s penultimate bout, Chimaev defeated Kevin Holland in their rearranged clash, winning with a D’arce choke midway through the first round.

Chimaev, now 12-0 as a pro, was roundly booed both before and after the fight, but later told reporters: “You care about that? I don't care. I care about my family, I care about my career, I care about my money... one day they're with me, one day they're not with me.

“I feel alive. When I'm in trouble, I feel alive, when I win my fights, I feel alive. People can say they don't want to watch me fight; they're liars. Everyone wants to watch my fights, everyone wants to see a killer."

On Diaz, Chimaev said: “Kevin Holland, tough guy, stronger guy, much better than Diaz. If Diaz and him were fighting, Holland would kill him. I finished that guy, so easy, first round... so yeah, Diaz has to thank God he didn't fight me. I would kill him. I would be in the jail, so maybe I have to be happy.

“Did you see how [Diaz and Ferguson] kicked, how they punched, how they wrestled, how they grappled? These guys are old. I'm young, I'm the killer.”

After fighting at a catchweight, Chimaev said he would speak to his coaches about his next move.

Updated: September 11, 2022, 8:05 AM