Ferguson steps in to face Diaz in UFC main event as Chimaev misses weight

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LAS VEGAS, Sept 9 (Reuters) – American Tony Ferguson will face compatriot Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 279 after Swedish fighter Khamzat Chimaev missed weight for Saturday’s welterweight showdown by a whopping 7.5 lbs.

Chimaev, 28, tipped the scales at 178.5lbs, well above the welterweight limit of 171, with his team claiming a “medical issue” prevented him from losing weight effectively.

Fighting in the final bout of his UFC contract, Diaz, 37, weighed in at 171, as did Ferguson who was scheduled to meet Chinese fighter Li Jingliang in the co-main event.

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As Diaz and Ferguson are set to face off, Chimaev will take on Kevin Holland at 180 pounds, while Li will take on another Californian in Daniel Rodriguez.

There was controversy in the build-up to the event as Thursday’s press conference was scrapped after backstage issues, with Chimaev and Holland getting into an altercation followed by an argument between Chimaev and the entourage of Diaz.

With both sides of this brawl well represented in the auditorium, UFC President Dana White quickly ended the press conference, rather than risk an outbreak of violence.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand where this whole press conference was headed, and there were so many people on all sides that once it started it would have been bad” , White told reporters during a backstage melee. .

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police greeted those arriving for Friday’s official weigh-ins at the UFC’s Apex Building, and UFC officials said there would be a heavy security presence at the ceremonial weigh-ins that were scheduled take place in the evening.

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Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Joseph K. Bennett