A turbulent Friday created an all-new fight card for UFC 279 on Saturday night.

The event, scheduled for the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, was to see rising welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev take on Nate Diaz in what many believed would be his last fight with the promotion. Instead, Chimaev dropped 7.5 pounds of weight and it set off a chain reaction of epic proportions.

Now Diaz will face veteran Tony Ferguson in a five-round main event in a fight that many believe should have been originally booked. Ferguson was scheduled to face rising welterweight contender Li Jingliang, who will now face Daniel Rodriguez in a three-rounder at a catchweight of 180 pounds. Rodriguez was originally scheduled to face Kevin Holland, who will now face Chimaev in a five-round co-feature.

“Nate Diaz and Tony, the fans have always wanted to see this one,” UFC President Dana White said after the shakeup. “It’s going to happen now before Nate leaves the UFC. It couldn’t have gone better.”

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Chimaev and Holland reportedly sparked a skirmish Thursday that forced White to call off the press conference when punches and kicks were exchanged.

With so much going on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to our staff’s predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 279 fight card, odds

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

  • Tony Ferguson -130 vs. Nate Diaz +110, welterweight
  • Khamzat Chimaev -550 vs. Kevin Holland +400, 180lb catchweight
  • Daniel Rodriguez -160 vs. Li Jingliang +135, 180lb catchweight
  • Irene Aldana -175 vs. Macy Chiasson +150, Women’s Bantamweight
  • Ion Cutelaba -220 vs. Johnny Walker +180, light heavyweights
  • Hakeem Dawodu -230 vs Julian Erosa +190, featherweight
  • Jailton Almeida -700 vs Anton Turkalj +500, light heavyweights
  • Jamie Pickett -135 vs. Denis Tiuliulin +115, middleweights
  • Jake Collier -440 vs. Chris Barnett +340, heavyweights
  • Norma Dumont -420 vs. Danyelle Wolf +330, women’s featherweight
  • Alatengheili -165 vs. Chad Anheliger +140, bantamweight
  • Melissa Martinez -170 vs. Elise Reed +145, Women’s Strawweight
  • Darian Weeks -125 vs. Yohan Lainesse +105, welterweight

With such a massive main event, the CBS Sports team went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your selectors: Brent Brookhouse (combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (combat sports writer, “Morning Kombat” co-host), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (content writer). chief).

UFC 279 Picks, Predictions

Diaz vs. Ferguson Diaz Diaz Diaz Diaz Ferguson
Chimaev vs Holland Holland Holland Chimaev Holland Chimaev
Jingliang vs. Rodriguez Rodriguez Jingilang Jingliang Jingliang Jingliang
Aldana vs. Chiasson Aldana Aldana Aldana Aldana Aldana
Cutelaba vs. Walker Walker cutelaba cutelaba cutelaba cutelaba
Records to date (2022) 22-21 24-19 23-20 24-19 29-14

Diaz vs. Ferguson

Campbell: Talk about good karma. The MMA gods were certainly smiling as Diaz entered what should be the last fight of his 15-year UFC career. Switching opponents from the undefeated Chimaev to a Ferguson who is riding a four-fight losing streak and desperately seeking shelter in a new weight class at 170 pounds drastically changes the expected outcome. Although Ferguson is still dangerous at 38, his chin and recovery abilities have been called into question in recent fights. This new main event is one that Diaz can and must win, although he will face a reasonable level of danger to get there.

Mahjouri: Diaz vs. Ferguson is a much closer fight than their original fights against Khamzat Chimaev and Li Jingliang, respectively. It’s the perfect fight between two veteran forwards with ultra-smooth submission plays. Ferguson’s wrestling could be the difference, but I expect these two to get up and trade. Diaz’s durability and enthusiasm for the new fight could well put him on the brink. Diaz War.

Wise: This line opened around -170 for Ferguson and has since descended to near pick’em. Seems fair given the last-minute nature of this clash between a pair of aging fighters who haven’t won since 2019. Ferguson’s chin has been in question in his past few outings, but these have pitted against the elite of the elite at 155 lbs. . Although he doesn’t really look like himself anymore, I side with the veteran who always seems more dynamic at this stage of his career. Diaz really hasn’t looked good outside of one-punch lightning since his streak with Conor McGregor in 2016. It started with Ferguson as the favorite for a reason.

Chimaev vs Holland

Mahjouri: I chose Justin Gaethje to defeat Charles Oliveira due to Oliveira’s lack of weight. I will not make this mistake again. Chimaev would generally be a heavy favorite against Holland. His maiming wrestling style is Dutch kryptonite, as evidenced by Dutch losses to Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori. Holland’s grappling game has improved considerably, but I doubt he’s closed the gap to Chimaev. Despite the lack of weight, Chimaev was set for five rounds and Holland was not. Give me Chimaev by submission before the final bell rings.

Stream: The awkwardness and chaos of this whole situation started because of one thing: for some reason, Chimaev was horribly underweight. We heard it was a medical issue and maybe it was, which would be reason to lean towards Holland for an upset. But, really, nothing that could have happened suggests that Chimaev is able to be at his best. Medical issue, lack of concentration, bad side, etc., it’s just a big red flag. Holland has been bullied before, but those fights were mostly middleweight. Now back at welterweight, he’s a big man who does a lot of awkward things. Chimaev should definitely win, but the odds of a knockdown are very high right now and I think Holland is the type of guy who can make the most of the situation.

Wise: It is impossible to know where Chimaev is physically and mentally. He looked good on the scales despite his lack of weight, and didn’t seem bothered by it as he continues to joke around online and upset fans at the weigh-in ceremonies. But the most important thing is that apart from an injury that we are not aware of, his best skill is exactly what Holland struggles with the most. Expect Chimaev to explode into Holland’s legs and separate him on the ground before the referee is forced out of the fight.

Jingliang vs. Rodriguez

Campbell: Inactive for 13 months with a hand injury, Rodriguez finally has the chance to extend a recent three-game winning streak. Opponent moves to Jingliang presents “D-Rod” with just as tough a matchup as Kevin Holland, especially given Li’s proven late-fighting power. But Rodriguez, who is 12-1 since 2017 , has the type of kicking ability to time “The Leech” and deliver a lot of foot trouble. The opportunity for Rodriguez, 35, to catapult himself into the top 10 with a win still exists. Expect him to seize the moment in a fight that almost guarantees fireworks.

Stream: In reality, Rodriguez vs. Jingliang is sort of a pick. Jingliang will probably lose the first round here. The choice depends on this slow rise in power which is a staple of Jingliang’s game. Rodriguez needs to be able to put in a lot of work early on before Jingliang starts to get back into the fight. Look for Jingliang to defeat the fight on 29-28 maps, possibly in a split decision.

Who wins Diaz vs. Ferguson? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now for detailed picks on every fight at UFC 279, all from the unrivaled expert who has earned over $13,000 on MMA over the past three years, and find out.

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