With UFC Fight Night in Paris coming to a wild end, MMA fans around the world turn their attention to the familiar T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 279 Chimaev vs. Diaz. UFC’s next pay-per-view event has even die-hard fans wondering if the promotion is underdelivering for this event.
With no belts on the line after having six straight events with at least one belt on the line, many with two, and with Chimaev opening as a -1100 favorite, it’s not hard to see why many fans are weary of coughing up the $75. However, this card contains much more depth than many fans are giving it. I’m going to highlight a couple of my favorite fights on this UFC card and tell you why you should be excited about them!
Li Jingliang vs. Tony Ferguson
Li Jingliang’s most memorable fight moment may be being picked up and dragged across the canvas by Chimaev. However, a month and a half ago Li was able to get that taste out of his mouth as he knocked out Muslim Salikhov at the end of the second round reminding fans that he is still the same fighter who had such an amazing performance against Santiago Ponzinibbio. Li has been in the promotion since 2014 and currently holds #14 in the rankings. A spectacular knockout is not only doable in this match-up but may also propel him into the top 10 in the weight class.
It’s hard to hear Tony Ferguson’s name without immediately thinking about the brutal front kick he took from Michael Chandler in May. But, what many do forget is that in the first round of that same fight, we saw a competitive Tony Ferguson, one that beckons the question, “Could we get the Tony Ferguson of old?”. While I don’t foresee Tony going on another 12-fight win streak, I do think that his 4-fight loss streak was in part because he was fighting top fighters in their prime and the fact he had cut out sparring from his training camps. With the addition of sparring back into his training coupled with a more manageable opponent, Tony looks to show the world that he still has more in the tank.
Kevin Holland vs. Daniel Rodriguez
Kevin Holland has turned a very disappointing UFC 2021 (0-2, 1 NC) into a spectacular 2022, having already notched two wins earlier this year both being finishes in the first half of the second round. This fight is at 180 lbs which is not a normal weight class however Kevin seems unphased by it and even suggested recently in an interview with TMZ that he would’ve been able to make 170 lbs come weigh-ins if needed, also predicting a finish within 15 seconds in the same interview. Kevin is not lacking confidence which is exactly what you want from a guy who has 19 career finishes.
Daniel Rodriguez hasn’t fought since August of last year, but he is also currently on a 3 fight win streak. The guy doesn’t get finished with both of his losses coming by decision. With 12 finishes of his own, 8 being KOs, expect the fists to fly and for Rodriguez to be prepared for Holland’s aggression and ready to match it. Rodriguez is 6-1 in the UFC and though no rankings are at stake a win Saturday could be a huge defining moment in the 35-year-old’s career.