Ferguson was originally slated to take on Li Jingliang in the UFC 279 co-main event. The bout was scheduled to be the 38-year-old’s return to welterweight for the first time since winning Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2011.
“El Cucuy” did end up returning to welterweight at UFC 279, but not against Jingliang and not in the card’s co-main event.
Khamzat Chimaev caused a significant uproar when “Borz” weighed in 7.5 pounds over the welterweight limit the day before his main event bout with Nate Diaz. After some reshuffling by the UFC, Chimaev ended up in a 180-pound co-main event bout with Kevin Holland while Ferguson met Diaz in the card’s headliner.
Even with all the pre-event drama, the card turned out as a fairly successful one for the UFC. Aside from Ferguson’s original opponent Jingliang losing a controversial split decision to Daniel Rodriguez, every other fight on the UFC 279 main card ended in a finish and provided an entertaining night of action for the Las Vegas crowd.
Ferguson Not Sold On Chimaev’s Weight Cut
When asked about the conversation that occurred following Chimaev’s weigh-in and the UFC’s decision for him to fight Diaz, Ferguson responded in typically unique fashion.
“Well, we didn’t have the president calling Dana and Dana saying ‘Hey, are you in kid?’”, Ferguson said. “But when it went down to it, it was kind of like a reminder of the pandemic, you know what I mean? You’ve got two Russians, like Nate said. You’ve got Khabib who ran away from me at UFC 209.
“And at the last one, I forget which number it was, it was like a whole bunch of ‘em right?…And then you have Khamzat, purposely missing weight. I’m gonna be real, like – starting all that shit, it could have been a facade – so he could have fucking, just whatever.”
Ferguson was famously scheduled to face former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on 5 different occasions in the UFC. Each fight fell through for a variety of reasons, and the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with Khabib’s retirement appear to have officially closed the book on one of the greatest “What If?” matchups in MMA history.
The implication from Ferguson that Chimaev purposefully missed weight has been discussed by MMA fans almost from the moment UFC 279’s new card was announced. While the original card was widely criticized for the fact that the UFC looked to be setting Diaz up to lose the last fight of his contract, the re-structured card was met with significantly more approval.
Following his loss to Diaz, Ferguson is now on a five-fight losing streak dating back to 2020. That stretch was preceded by a lengthy winning streak where “El Cucuy” also captured the UFC’s interim lightweight title when he submitted Kevin Lee at UFC 216.
What do you make of Ferguson’s claim that Chimaev missed weight on purpose?