UFC 279 Odds, Picks & Betting Predictions For Diaz vs Chimaev
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Editor's note: This article was published before the UFC 279 card was upended by a series of missed weights from fighters on Friday. Nate Diaz will now face Tony Ferguson in the main event, while Chimaev will fight Kevin Holland in the co-main event.
The latest UFC pay-per-view card takes place this Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada when UFC 279 goes down. The card features up-and-coming welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev against the legend Nate Diaz in what many perceive to be a mismatch.
Aside from the main event, there are 12 other fights set for this weekend. Let's break down the main event and two other main card bouts for our UFC picks this weekend.
UFC 279 Main Event Best Bet
Khamzat Chimaev (-1050) vs. Nate Diaz (+700)
The main event of UFC 279 is a five-round welterweight bout between top contender Khamzat Chimaev and longtime veteran Nate Diaz. Chimaev is a -1050 favorite to win the fight, and by all means, he should be able to defeat Diaz for one of the biggest wins of his UFC career.
Chimaev joined the UFC in 2020 and ever since has been one of the top welterweights on the roster. Just 28, Chimaev has won all five of his UFC fights, including a decision win over Gilbert Burns earlier this year in what was one of the best fights of 2022 to date.
Chimaev has some of the best grappling skills in the division and his striking is improving, too. He has some of the best conditioning in the division and he’s just an absolute savage when it comes to finishing his opponents. In many ways, he looks like a future champion at 170lbs.
Diaz, meanwhile, is nearing the end of his UFC run. At age 37, this is the last fight on his UFC contract and he’s said to be interested in boxing once his deal expires. Diaz obviously has a ton of experience in the Octagon and his level of competition has been high throughout his career. We know he has amazing submission skills and elite boxing in MMA, and his toughness is off the charts.
However, we also know that his takedown defense is poor and he’s fighting an amazing wrestler in Chimaev. We also know that he cuts easily on his face, and going up against someone who will bust him up, it just looks like a very difficult fight for him to win.
As the UFC betting sites indicate, it would be a huge surprise to see Diaz win this fight, and I just can’t see that happening. I’m confident Chimaev gets his hand raised as a -1050 favorite, but I think the way to bet on this fight is to attack the prop market.
I believe Chimaev will take Diaz down and finish him via TKO due to ground-and-pound or facial cuts, so for a prop, go with Chimaev to win by TKO, which gives you much better odds than the four-figure moneyline. It's one of our UFC 279 best bets for this weekend.
UFC Main Event Pick: Khamzat Chimaev wins at -1050 with DraftKings Sportsbook ➜
UFC Main Event Pick: Khamzat Chimaev wins by TKO at -150 with DraftKings Sportsbook ➜
UFC 279 Best Bets & Predictions
Li Jingliang (-305) vs. Tony Ferguson (+255)
In the co-main event, former lightweight star Tony Ferguson moves up to welterweight when he takes on top-15 contender Li Jingliang. The Chinese fighter is a -305 favorite on betting sites to get his hand raised, and I believe he will defeat Ferguson for one of the most significant victories of his career to date.
Jingliang is coming off a great KO win over Muslim Salikhov in his last fight. In fact, Jingliang has eight knockout wins in the UFC out of his 12 Octagon triumphs, so he’s a knockout artist through and through. At age 34, he’s in the prime of his career right now. He is a strong, powerful welterweight with huge power, and he has the chance to really break through on the big stage when he takes on Ferguson in the co-main event of UFC 279.
Ferguson is actually ranked at No. 11 in the UFC lightweight rankings, but after losing his last four fights, he is moving up to welterweight. Although Ferguson has been of the best lightweights for years in the Octagon, he’s lost his last four fights in mostly one-sided fashion, and now he’s moving up in weight to take on bigger and harder-hitting opponents. I just don’t like this move for Ferguson at age 38 and can’t see it going well for him. He has a chance to submit Jingliang if this fight hits the mat, but if this fight stays standing, there’s a chance Ferguson gets finished.
Ferguson has really struggled the last few years and now he’s moving up to a higher weight class and fighting a legitimate knockout artist. I just think it’s a tough move for him at this point in his career, and I see Jingliang taking care of business here as a -305 favorite as one of our UFC 279 picks for Saturday. For a prop, I would take Jingliang by knockout on betting apps as that’s how he wins most of his fights.
Jingliang vs Ferguson Pick: Li Jingliang wins at -305 with DraftKings Sportsbook ➜
Jingliang vs Ferguson Pick: Li Jingliang wins by TKO at +110 with DraftKings Sportsbook ➜
Kevin Holland (-195) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (+165)
Also on the main card is a catch weight (180lbs) bout between Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez. This should be a very competitive fight, and for that reason, I see value here on Rodriguez as a +165 underdog.
Rodriguez is one of the best welterweights in the UFC and he’s gone 6-1 overall since joining the world’s leading MMA promotion in 2020. At age 35, Rodriguez is a bit of a late bloomer but he has certainly been making up for lost time. Outside of a very close decision loss to Nicolas Dalby, Rodriguez hasn’t lost in the Octagon, and he’s dominated most of his opponents.
In his last fight, he defeated Kevin Lee for the biggest win of his career. He lands over eight significant strikes per minute, which is one of the highest rates of any UFC fighter, and he has great takedown defense. He also has excellent conditioning and he can push a high pace. He’s the underdog here on paper, but he has a good chance to win the fight.
Holland is an awesome fighter himself and has looked great at welterweight with back-to-back finishes over Tim Means and Alex Oliveira. There is no doubt Holland has finally found his correct weight class after an up-and-down run at middleweight, but I still think Rodriguez has the skills necessary to defeat him. As good as Holland is, I think Rodriguez can match him in the striking in what should mostly be a stand-up fight. Holland has power, but Rodriguez has never been knocked out before, and he’s never been submitted either. Holland will likely need to win a decision, and against a guy with so much volume in Rodriguez, that won’t be easy to do.
I feel like this fight is way closer than the odds indicate, and Rodriguez has a legitimate shot to pull off the upset. Give me Rodriguez at +180 dog odds for the win as one of our UFC 279 best bets, and for a prop, you can take a look at Rodriguez by decision.
Holland vs Rodriguez Pick: Daniel Rodriguez wins at +165 with DraftKings Sportsbook ➜
Holland vs Rodriguez Pick: Daniel Rodriguez wins by decision at +450 with DraftKings Sportsbook ➜