Earlier this month, the UFC announced that Diaz and Chimaev will headline UFC 279, which takes place Sept. 10 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It’s a fight that immediately drew criticism from fans as an egregious mismatch, and former UFC commentator Dan Hardy could not agree more.
“It feels like we’re getting to the point where someone should start thinking about pressing charges,” Hardy told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “It doesn’t feel like a fair fight. It feels like a very, very cruel thing to do to someone that is a legitimate legend. Because they’ve spoken out against the organization, they’re going to get executed live on TV. That’s kind of how it feels, and it makes me feel uncomfortable to think that’s the way it’s going to go down.”
Diaz is on the last fight of his UFC contract and has been attempting to exit the UFC for some time now. Earlier this month, Diaz even went on The MMA Hour and said the company was “holding him hostage,” refusing to book him while they attempted to re-sign him.
Had the UFC been able to re-sign Diaz, they reportedly would not have booked the Chimaev fight and instead were looking at Diaz vs. Dustin Poirier, a matchup that was scheduled to take place at UFC 230 before it was cancelled. But with Diaz anxious to leave the promotion and pursue other opportunities, including potentially a lucrative boxing match with Jake Paul, the UFC finally gave him a fight – one that, on paper, appears to be extremely difficult.
Hardy simply hopes the matchmaking doesn’t seriously harm Diaz.
“I hope, desperately hope, that Nate at least comes through it alright, but after watching what Khamzat did to Rhys McKee and to John Phillips — yes, of course, Nate’s got good jiu-jitsu, but there comes a point where jiu-jitsu is nullified by good wrestling,” Hardy said. “It happened in the early days of the UFC, and it would happen against Nate if it hits the floor. I think he gets nullified and I think he gets beaten up horrendously from the top position. I think it’s going to be uncomfortable to watch, and I think it’s going to leave the UFC in a very, very bad light.
“I just hope Nate comes through it alright, because I think he’s got good opportunities outside the UFC. It’s just a shame that they’re going to do this assassination attempt on him before he leaves.”
Hardy is far from the only one who thinks this matchup is nigh unwinnable for Diaz. The oddsmakers installed Chimaev as a -1100 favorite, suggesting a 91.67 percent win probability. Even for Diaz, who has thrived in the underdog role before — most notably when he submitted Conor McGregor on short notice at UFC 196 — he is likely to remain a massive underdog despite his popularity. Hardy said it speaks to the sad manner in which the UFC handles its business.
“I love Khamzat Chimaev – I just think they’re in different positions right now,” Hardy said. “He’s on the rise, and Diaz is a legend that is on his way out. It’s just a fight that shouldn’t be happening. But of course, if Nate pulls it off it would be the most Diaz thing to do in the world, and he’ll walk off into the sunset with a smile on his face.
“I think I said what I needed to about it. I just feel very unfortunate that it’s happening, and that we can’t celebrate these fighters when they’re coming to the end of their career. But it’s the UFC’s style, isn’t it? If they decide they’re parting ways with you, they try to damage you in every way possible. Unfortunately, if you’re a fighter and they want to damage you, they can actually physically do it, which is a shame.”