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Khamzat Chimaev of Russia reacts after defeating Gilbert Burns of Brazil in the welterweight bout during the UFC 273 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
Khamzat Chimaev of Russia reacts after defeating Gilbert Burns of Brazil in the welterweight bout during the UFC 273 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 09, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images via AFP.

In the UFC’s return to its home base, surging welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev meets fan-favorite Nate Diaz to close out UFC 279 in Las Vegas. Have a look at our Chimaev-Diaz picks below before this weekend’s event.

UPDATE: This fight has canceled as Tony Ferguson will now fight Nate Diaz in the main event and Li Jingliang will fight Daniel Rodriguez.

The lauded Chimaev has gone from blue-chipper to legit contender in just a handful of walks to the Octagon, scoring four finishes to start his UFC stint before besting Gilbert Burns by decision in an instant classic at UFC 273 in April. He now heads to Vegas for Saturday’s marquee matchup with a pristine 11-0 record and stoppages in all but one of his pro contests.

As for the other half of the weekend’s headliner, Diaz takes the cage for just the fourth time since 2016, although he remains beloved among fight fans and a reliable draw. The 26-fight UFC veteran most recently dropped a lopsided decision to newly crowned welterweight king Leon Edwards, a defeat that leaves him on a two-fight slump ahead of his date with Chimaev. An upset would mark Diaz’s first victory in over three years.

Here are my Chimaev-Diaz picks and predictions for this marquee welterweight bout (odds via Caesars Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook; pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Chimaev vs. Diaz Fight Info

Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 10, 10 p.m. ET (main card)
TV: PPV, ESPN+
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV

Chimaev vs. Diaz Odds Analysis

Chimaev heads to the fight capital of the world as a whopping favorite, with lines on the undefeated contender ranging from -1000 (Caesars Sportsbook) to -1150 (DraftKings Sportsbook). You’ll find far better value in betting on a method of victory for Chimaev, with FanDuel offering -135 on a KO/TKO and +260 on a tapout.

As for Diaz, you’ll find lines on the underdog from +625 (PointsBet) to +750 (DraftKings). The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has earned 11 of his 20 career wins by tapout, and if you’re pining for a historic upset from Stockton’s finest, you’ll find a miracle 12th career submission at +1500 via FanDuel.

Chimaev vs. Diaz Picks

Chimaev vs. Diaz ML Pick

Chimaev (-1000) ★★★★

Whether this welterweight clash stays standing or not, I have to side with the new guard over the old. While Diaz’s combination punching, cardio, and durability have long been the stuff of legend, his front-heavy stance and lackluster footwork will leave him ripe for takedowns from a dogged wrestler and top player in Chimaev.

Try as he might to find a home for his hands, Diaz is tasked with a veritable freight train, and if Chimaev puts him on the back foot, the takedowns should come easy, after which Chimaev will have a grand old time at Diaz’s expense.

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Chimaev vs. Diaz O/U Pick

Over 1.5 rounds (-140) ★★★

I know I’m picking Chimaev to win and expecting another fast start from him, but Diaz remains a tough out, and I think his chin and cardio alone are enough for him to at least see a second stanza.

Diaz may be outmatched in just about every area of this matchup, but if Chimaev gives him even a little room to breathe, we could see flashes of Diaz’s patented combination boxing and even a few moments of Chimaev adjusting off the back foot. This matchup is no Fight of the Year candidate, but I believe Diaz has enough left in the tank to at least make it a scrap in the early going.

Chimaev vs. Diaz Winning Method Pick

Chimaev by KO/TKO (-135) ★★★

If Chimaev claims the center of the cage and has Diaz backing up, it won’t be a matter of if, but when the action goes to the mat. The Chechen contender is a tireless top player who uncorks endless ground-and-pound when he isn’t advancing his position, which is bad news for Diaz, a man who’s never been fond of fighting wrestlers.

Should Diaz begin finding a home for his combos, Chimaev won’t hesitate to dump him on his back, after which he’ll overwhelm Diaz with hellfire until the referee steps in to make his seventh career KO/TKO official.

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Chimaev-Diaz picks made 9/9/2022 at 11:08 a.m. ET