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Nate Diaz has been begging for a fight and the UFC has finally accommodated him with a big one. He’ll face third-ranked welterweight Khamzat Chimaev on Sept. 10 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in the main event of UFC 279.
ESPN first reported the news. Hunter Campbell, the UFC’s chief business officer, confirmed it Tuesday to Yahoo Sports.
The UFC had been going back and forth with Diaz for weeks, trying to get him a fight. In a media appearance last week, Diaz said he wanted to fight either UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou or middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, fights that no commission in the world would sanction.
On Saturday, following the UFC Long Island card, UFC president Dana White expressed frustration at trying to get a deal done with Diaz, but refused to specify what was happening.
“Imagine having a f***ing conversation like that,” White said of Diaz asking to fight Ngannou. “It’s like, ‘Come on.’ Nate Diaz versus Francis Ngannou? What should I say? It’s like, ‘Holy s***. This is crazy.’ ”
The UFC reached out to Diaz again after the news conference and things began to break. On Tuesday, Campbell said both fighters had agreed to the deal.
Diaz, who will fight out the final bout on his contract, has become one of the sport’s biggest stars despite a lack of success in the Octagon. He’s lost two in a row and three of his last four.
He’s taking on a huge challenge in Chimaev, who the UFC has also had difficulty booking for different reasons. Chimaev has called out just about every elite fighter at welterweight and middleweight, most recently asking for a fight with middleweight Alex Pereira. But Pereira is going to fight Adesanya for the title in his next bout, so he wasn’t interested in Chimaev.
Chimaev is 5-0 in the UFC and 11-0 overall. His most recent bout was a victory at UFC 273 over Gilbert Burns. He had his struggles in the fight with Burns, but had dominated his first four opponents. He finished John Philips in the second round in his UFC debut, then beat Rhys McKee, Gerald Meerschaert and Li Jingliang in the first before the Burns fight.