UFC 279 Odds: Nate Diaz’s Top Five Moments
There aren’t too many fighters who can main event a UFC pay-per-view without any titles on the line. But this Saturday at UFC 279, it will be Nate Diaz taking on the undefeated Khamzat Chimaev at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, just outside of Las Vegas.
This wasn’t the original plan. The Bantamweight belt was supposed to be up for grabs, with Aljamain Sterling taking on former champion TJ Dillashaw at the top of the card. But Dana White and the powers that be decided to move that fight to UFC 280, and let Diaz be the standard-bearer for Saturday’s show.
It might be his last ride. Chimaev (11-0 lifetime, 5-0 UFC) is a massive –1000 favourite on the UFC betting lines at Bodog Sportsbook as we go to press, and very much in line for a welterweight title shot against Leon Edwards – presumably after Kamaru Usman gets his rematch against Edwards, who dethroned him last month at UFC 278.
The UFC 279 odds for Nate Diaz are very long indeed at +700, but he’s the one driving the buy rate for this pay-per-view. Diaz is one of the most popular fighters ever to grace the Octagon, and if Saturday proves to be his last fight, at least he’ll be going out on his shield like a true warrior.
Then again, Diaz just might pull off the upset. If he does, it’ll be one of the greatest moments in his career, taking place somewhere among the following top five.
UFC 196: Chokes out Conor McGregor
It’s all too easy to forget how dominant Conor McGregor was in his prime. The year was 2016, and the charismatic Irishman had yet to be defeated inside the Octagon when he moved all the way up from featherweight to face Diaz at UFC 196. It proved to be the biggest card in the promotion’s history up to that point, with a buy rate of over 1.3 million people.
They witnessed one hell of a fight. McGregor was the –585 favourite on Bodog’s UFC betting board, and he had his opponent reeling in the first round after one of his signature flurry of punches. But it was Diaz who slapped on a rear-naked choke and secured the tapout at 4:12 of the second round for the biggest win of his career.
UFC 202: Loses Rematch to McGregor
Diaz (20-13 lifetime, 15-11 UFC) is remembered more for his toughness and fighting spirit than for his success on the mat. He never did win a title in the UFC, losing his only shot against Benson Henderson back in 2012. But Diaz arguably outdid himself in his rematch with McGregor at UFC 202, which pulled in an even bigger buy rate than their first encounter at 1.65 million viewers.
This fight was much like the first, with McGregor taking the early advantage and Diaz starting to turn the tide in the second. Diaz almost sealed the deal in the third, but McGregor survived to take the fourth and leave Diaz a bloody mess. Undaunted, Diaz dug deep and had McGregor on the mat late in the fifth, but he couldn’t get the finish and ended up losing by majority decision.
UFC 241: Defeats Anthony Pettis
We didn’t know it at the time, but the loss to McGregor would be the last time we’d see Diaz in the Octagon for three years. When he finally came back, it was against “Showtime” Anthony Pettis, another very popular figure among MMA fans. They were the co-main event for UFC 241, and the two fighters were tied on the UFC odds board at –115 in the days leading up to their bout.
The fight wasn’t nearly that even. Diaz was clearly the better man, grounding Pettis repeatedly and nearly securing a rear-naked choke before settling for the unanimous decision. This was pretty much the end for Pettis as a legitimate title threat – he’s in the PFL now – but unless Diaz can score the upset this Saturday, the win over Pettis might also be the last of his legendary career.
UFC 141: Defeats Donald Cerrone
Diaz had some ups and downs earlier in his career, but he scooped up more performance bonuses than just about anyone else, and it looked like a match made in heaven back in 2011 when Diaz took on the equally violent Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the co-main event at UFC 141, this time in the Lightweight division.
The lesson: Bet against Diaz at your peril. He was available at +245 against Cerrone, who was on a six-fight win streak at the time, and Diaz cashed in handsomely by battering Cerrone from pillar to post for another clear unanimous decision, and yet another Fight of the Night bonus. Diaz also set a CompuStrike record by connecting on 82% of the strikes he threw at Cerrone.
TUF 5: Wins the Lightweight Tournament
Who knows what the future might hold for Diaz, but for now, the biggest accolade he’s achieved in the UFC was his victory in the Lightweight tournament at The Ultimate Fighter 5. Diaz scored three straight submissions over Rob Emerson, Corey Hill and Gray Maynard to earn a spot in the finale, which was held on June 23, 2007 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
Diaz was matched up with Manny Gamburyan for this fight, and it ended just like the others, in a victory for Diaz – this time via TKO in the second round, after Gamburyan dislocated his shoulder while attempting a takedown. With the win, Diaz earned a six-figure UFC contract, putting him on the path to all the other great achievements we’ve listed here.
Will that path end Saturday night? Time will tell; for now, Diaz has one more chance to show the world why he’s one of the best fighters this sport has ever seen. You’ll find dozens of different ways to bet the Diaz-Chimaev fight on the UFC/MMA odds board at Bodog Sportsbook, so make your picks, enjoy the show, and we’ll see you inside the Octagon.