A last-minute reshuffle a day before UFC 279 has resulted in the top-3 fights being flipped after Khamzat Chimaev (11-0) missed official weight.
Nate Diaz (21-13), originally scheduled to face Chimaev at 77kg, now faces welterweight Tony Ferguson in the main event on Sunday September 11 (AEST).
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Dana White cancels pre-fight media conference call
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Chimaev missed the weight by 3.4 kg (7.5 pounds), with the massive crowd alarming Diaz, who refused to face him.
The organizers then decided to change the co-main event and Chimaev will now face Kevin Holland (23-7) in a catchweight title.
Chimaev’s team had claimed that he was unable to make the fighting weight due to a medical issue, though it’s still unclear what that was or how it was affecting him.
In the third fight, Li Jingliang (19-7) will face Daniel Rodriguez (16-2) in another catchweight bout.
The UFC 279 card was plagued with issues and uncertainties from the start.
Many have questioned it as an odd choice of fights, particularly the now scrapped headline between Chimaev and Diaz.
During the week, Diaz admitted to reporters that he was unhappy with Chimaev’s duel, but still attended the fight as it was the only one the UFC would accept.
Surprisingly, fans seem to have responded positively to the reaction to the changes.
“Look at this lineup, it just makes sense,” one fan commented on a UFC social media post announcing the changes.
However, some have responded in the negative, stating that the map was always doomed.
“This card was already not ppv worthy and these new matchups are no better,” another commented on the UFC social media post.
It comes just a day after UFC made the unprecedented decision to cancel the pre-fight press conference over a backstage brawl.
UFC President Dana White addressed fans who eagerly awaited the press conference in Las Vegas to make the announcement.
“Yes, that won’t happen. I’m sorry guys,” White said after a backstage argument between several fighters on the main card.
“I apologize to everyone. This has never happened before in the company’s history. Let me tell you that not doing this press conference now is the right decision.”
White later explained to reporters that the mass brawl was between several different fighters who were waiting backstage before the conference.
“There were several things going on at the same time. It wasn’t just one thing that broke out,” White said.
“There was security over there, there was no security over here … because everyone was dealing with the other thing, and when it all started to erupt, it was a complete shit show.”
Since the set, Kevin Holland has been taking to social media to shed some light on the situation.
“Just so everyone knows. I offered the clown a free beard trim. Holland wrote in a Twitter post, referring to Chimaev’s beard.
“I don’t know of any place in the US that offers this service for free! I’m accurate, I promise I wouldn’t hit him. At your service, as are the hotel staff, brother.”
According to reports, Holland and Chimaev had been at the center of the violent scuffle.
https://7news.com.au/sport/ufc/more-ufc-279-drama-as-overweight-chimaev-forces-line-up-reshuffle-with-top-fighters-flipping-spots-c-8188731 More UFC 279 drama as the overweight Chimaev forces a lineup reshuffle due to unclear medical issues