The last 24 hours surrounding this weekend's fights, formerly headlined by Nate Diaz vs. Khamzat Chimaev, have been some of the most bizarre I've seen since I became a fan of the sport. Press conference canceled before it even started, catchweight bouts being made left and right, and a complete reshuffle of the biggest three fights on a Pay-Per-View card has left everyone confused yet more excited. With that comes a lot of people making up theories as to why this has happened. So, this begs the question: Did the UFC create this madness on its own?
Theory Number 1: The UFC made this happen
There are many reasons why the UFC could have created this situation to help bolster the card. To start, fans weren't too happy with this PPV card to begin with, because for weeks it was headlined as Diaz vs. Chimaev with Johnny Walker vs. Ion Cutelaba shown as the co-main. It was only recently that the Tony Ferguson vs. Li Jingliang and Kevin Holland vs. Daniel Rodriguez fights were added to the card. Once this was released, many of us wondered why Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson wasn't the main event since this is, and has always been, a fight that fans have dreamed of. Seeing the outcry, the UFC may have set up the skirmish that caused the press conference to be canceled which added a lot more drama. Holland vs. D-Rod was already scheduled as a catchweight fight at 180 pounds, which according to this theory would allow Khamzat Chimaev to miss weight by 7.5 pounds. This happens, Nate Diaz (rightfully so) doesn't want to take the fight, which means we have to reshuffle. There are a lot of intriguing points that are still valid in this theory which will absolutely continue to be a talking point after the fights conclude.
There are a few issues with this theory that are continually brought up. First, I truly don't believe the UFC would want to destroy Khamzat's image like this on purpose. He was booed at the ceremonial weigh-ins and will always be remembered as the fighter with all the hype in the world, on the biggest stage of his career, who fumbled before fight day even began. Khamzat could have become a mega star if he handled Diaz. Now he will fight Kevin Holland- which is a great fight- but nowhere near the level the Diaz fight would have been.
The other issue with this is that Li Jingliang likely wouldn't have agreed to fight Daniel Rodriguez almost 10 pounds heavier than him in advance. Although they will both gain weight for the fight, it is still a disadvantage for The Leech who already cut down to 170.
Theory 2: None of this was planned
This is the most likely scenario, as well as the most chaotic. Fighters were involved in a fight backstage before the presser. Khamzat misses weight and is likely on Dana White's bad side, and somehow the craziest situation turns out to make a much more enjoyable fight card. In order to make some of these fights happen, I'm sure fighter payouts were adjusted heavily, especially in Jingliang's situation.
As confusing as this last day has been, us fans are in for an absolute treat Saturday night. More drama and better matchups typically lead to a much more entertaining night of fights. No one could write a better and more fitting end to Nate Diaz's UFC run than what will unfold at UFC 279.