UFC fan-favourite Nate Diaz brought the curtain down on his UFC career, for now, with a fourth-round submission of former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson at UFC 279.

Diaz and Ferguson went back and forth in a hugely entertaining welterweight battle after the pair were matched on just 24 hours’ notice following Khamzat Chimaev’s huge weight miss on Friday. Chimaev was set to face Diaz, but the issue on the scale meant Diaz needed a different opponent, with Ferguson called upon to move up the card and face the Stockton native in a five-round main event.

The bout pitted two legends of the octagon head to head for the first time, and the matchup didn’t disappoint, with both men enjoying their successes during an action-packed clash that eventually ended mid-way through the fourth round.

Ferguson repeatedly punished Diaz throughout the fight with thumping kicks to the lead leg, but Diaz’s boxing and combination punching often had “El Cucuy” backing up and spinning his way out of trouble.

The finish eventually came after Ferguson, following urgings from his corner, shot in for a takedown. Diaz saw it coming and snatched Ferguson’s neck, trapping him in a tight guillotine choke. And, with Diaz knowing victory was secured, he gave a familiar gesture to the cameras as he applied the final squeeze to force the tap at the 2:52 mark of Round 4.

It gave Diaz the perfect farewell victory as he fought out the final bout of his UFC contract. And, despite admitting he’d had a “love-hate” relationship with the UFC over the years, he thanked the UFC bosses as he confirmed he was going to step away from the octagon.

Chimaev’s mastery on the mat finishes Holland

In the co-main event, Khamzat Chimaev delivered arguably the most dominant performance of his UFC career to date with a first-round submission finish of Kevin Holland.

The pair skirmished backstage on press conference day earlier in the week, then were matched up after Chimaev missed weight by 7.5 pounds for his originally-scheduled main event clash with Nate Diaz.

When the fight got underway, Chimaev immediately took Holland to the mat, prompting a series of furious scrambles as Holland tried in vain to get separation. Chimaev wouldn’t let that happen, however, and stayed stuck to his opponent like glue, and eventually locked up a D’Arce choke and dragged Holland to the mat once more.

More scrambles ensued as the American tried to get himself some breathing room, but Chimaev kept the pressure on and adjusted with each scramble to tighten his grip and force Holland to concede defeat by tapping at the 2:13 mark.

‘D-Rod’ edges ‘The Leech’ on the cards

The first of the three hastily-made matchups at the top of the card saw Chinese welterweight Li Jingliang take on Daniel Rodriguez in a 180-pound catchweight bout after three competitive rounds that split the judges at the end of the bout.

The matchup was made on one day’s notice, with Li stepping up to face a heavier opponent, and despite conceding weight to his opposite number, “The Leech” looked comfortable throughout the matchup as he went toe to toe with the heavy-handed striker through the full three-round duration.

However, despite Li looking particularly sharp through the opening two rounds, it was Rodriguez who earned the nod from two of the three cageside judges, with scores of 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.

Aldana claims gritty TKO victory

The women’s 140-pound catchweight bout between Irene Aldana and Macy Chiasson produced a thrilling battle, and a UFC first, with Mexico’s Aldana finishing Chiasson with an upkick to the liver that immediately folded up the American and forced referee Jason Herzog to stop the fight mid-way through the third round.

Aldana had a huge first round and appeared to hyperextend both of Chiasson’s arms in separate armbar attempts. But, despite an apparent tap from Chiasson, the bout continued without pause, as Chiasson gamely clung on and survived the round.

It meant Chiasson needed a big response in Round 2, and she delivered exactly that. She dominated the second stanza and put Aldana in trouble with her high-pressure approach.

It meant the final round was potentially a winner-takes-all affair, and with Chiasson continuing to push the pace, Aldana got creative off her back and connected with a crushing heel kick off her back to finish Chiasson and claim her fourth win in her last five outings.

Walker claims rare submission win

In the main card openerJohnny Walker claimed only his third career win via submission as he overcame Ion Cutelaba’s wrestling-heavy approach to finish his man via rear-naked choke.

Cutelaba, who has been known to bullrush his opponents with punches in the past, started smartly and took Walker to the canvas early in the opening round of the light heavyweight matchup. But Walker showed some impressive smarts on the mat as he eventually reversed position on Cutelaba and ended up on top.

After fending off an armbar attempt from the Moldovan, Walker eventually transitioned to Cutelaba’s back and, after a face crank attempt didn’t get the job done, he switched to a rear-naked choke, which forced the tap in the closing seconds of the round to give Walker a precious bounceback victory.

UFC 279: Official Results

MAIN CARD

  • Nate Diaz def. Tony Ferguson via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 4, 2:52
  • Khamzat Chimaev def. Kevin Holland via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 1, 2:13
  • Daniel Rodriguez  def. Li Jingliang via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Irene Aldana def. Macy Chiasson via knockout (liver kick) – Round 3, 2:21
  • Johnny Walker def. Ion Cutelaba via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:37

PRELIMINARY CARD

  • Julian Erosa def. Hakeem Dawodu via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Jailton Almeida def. Anton Turkalj via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:27
  • Denis Tiuliulin def. Jamie Pickett via TKO (knee and punches) – Round 2, 4:52
  • Chris Barnett def. Jake Collier via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:24

EARLY PRELIMS

  • Norma Dumont def. Danyelle Wolf via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
  • Alatengheili def. Chad Anheliger via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Elise Reed def. Melissa Martinez via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Yohan Lainesse def. Darian Weeks via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)