How UFC 279 Created UFC Fight Night: Wonderboy vs Holland

UFC Fight Night: Holland vs Thomson

December 4th’s UFC Fight Night – Holland vs Thomson, is a reasonably well packed night of fights. However, one thing doesn’t sit right.

With a heavyweight banger between (possible) title contenders Tai Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich happening on the undercard, why is a fight between two welterweights on losing streaks headlining the night?

The Implications of UFC 279

Let me take you back to the travesty that was UFC 279; arguably the worst managed event of 2022. Stockton bad boy Nate Diaz was set to fight out his UFC contract and become a free agent. After numerous cancellations and pussyfooting by Diaz and the UFC, he was finally scheduled to fight Khamzat Chimaev, the latest in a series of Dagestani hitmen to grace the sport.

In truth, the UFC wanted to secure a McGregor trilogy match with Diaz (a multi-multi million dollar fight), and since Diaz was playing hardball, they decided to sanction his execution at the hands of Chimaev instead, thus reducing his stock and lowering his bartering ability with any other agents on the free market.

The Cancelled Press Conference

To kick it all off, Chimaev’s team had an ‘altercation’ with Kevin Holland’s team backstage at the UFC 279 press conference. This caused the UFC 279 presser to be cancelled outright. Fighters couldn’t use this massive opportunity to build PR, some even had suits tailored for the event which they couldn’t use.

Khamzat Misses Weight

We hit the scales, Diaz makes weight, Chimaev is… 7lbs heavier than the limit; he didn’t even try to make the weight. Literal last minute rearrangements of the card were needed. Diaz now fights Tony Ferguson in the main event, and Khamzat Chimaev now fights Kevin Holland.

Here’s a quick summary of the fights:

  • Nate Diaz submitted Tony Ferguson with a guillotine choke
  • Khamzat Chimaev submitted Kevin Holland with an anaconda choke in the opening seconds

Where does Kevin Holland Fit Into All This?

So, Diaz rides off into the sunset with a victory, not having been executed by Chimaev, with his signature 209 on the fight clock.

The real loser was Kevin Holland, who had to adjust to one of the most dangerous pressure wrestlers on the planet when he was scheduled to face a boxer. Why not just cancel? Secure the show money, don’t fight, get paid? Because the UFC secured Holland a Fight Night main event sometime in the near future if he took the fight.

It’s great that the UFC rewards fighters who take big risks on short notice. Holland definitely deserved the exposure since taking a guaranteed beatdown. He even feigned retirement from the sport for some time after the fight, and maybe this helped him secure the main event spot even more.


Mathew Riddle MMA

Mathew Riddle

Mathew is a combat sports journalist & designer. His past bylines include Sports Illustrated, Heavy on UFC, Sport Skeeda, MMA UK, and MMA Sucka.