UFC 279 Picks, Tips & Predictions: Can Diaz Stop the Hype Train Before Bowing Out?

UFC 279 Picks, Tips & Predictions: Can Diaz Stop the Hype Train Before Bowing Out?
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What a month of UFC we have had. We’ve had a historic night in Utah and a magnificent fight card over in France for the first ever time.

Now the UFC is now back in Las Vegas for the first time in a few weeks, as we get treated to another excellent PPV where Khamzat Chimaev looks to take the No. 1 contender spot against Nate Diaz.

Here are our UFC betting tips and picks for this weekend.

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Khamzat Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz

To be honest, it’s quite incredible that this fight has managed to headline a PPV, but who’s complaining? Not us.

Khamzat Chimaev will face another gargantuan test in proving himself to be the next best thing in MMA, with Nate Diaz also set to fight in his last UFC fight after 26 battles inside the cage. However, should he beat Chimaev, he’ll surely have to sign a new deal and head toward the title.

We don’t, however, see much of a route for Diaz in this one. Chimaev, simply put, is just that good, and he is unlikely to lose to a man who has only one win in the past six years and that came against Anthony Pettis. 

Diaz is a 3rd-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which is going to be his best route to victory. Chimaev is going to head for the takedowns and ultimately wants to maul Diaz just like he did against Li Jingliang and his other 10 opponents.

Chimaev was made to look beatable against Gilbert Burns, as he lost a round and was almost knocked down, while Burns was able to take an array of powerful shots against him which would have knocked out most men. Against Diaz, his famous chin and how he has never been KO’d will only make things harder for Chimaev. 

It also favors Diaz how this fight is over five rounds, and the favorite is going to need to manage his cardio much better than in his battle with Burns. We do, however, think it’ll be an easy one for Chimaev, and he may get the job done inside the distance, too, as Diaz is far from the level expected to give this rising star a test.

Khamzat Chimaev by KO/TKO in round 3 is +1100 with DraftKings Sportsbook.

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Li Jingliang vs. Tony Ferguson

“El Cucuy'' returns to the octagon as he works to try to end a four-fight losing streak where, in truth, he has been absolutely destroyed in every round. Justin Gaethje beat him in the interim lightweight fight, before the current champion, Charles Oliveira, put on a master class against him. Beneil Dariush would do the same over three rounds back in May, before a year layoff for Ferguson and a brutal KO from Michael Chandler last time out.

Sadly for Ferguson, he looks finished. The mentality of a warrior like him will never fade, but he has to acknowledge the fact he is now just five months away from turning 39 and his days at the top end of MMA are likely over.

As for Jingliang, he returned from his battering against Chimaev by recording a Performance of the Night win against Muslim Salikhov, where he won in the second round via TKO (punches and elbows). 

"The Leech" looks fresher heading into this one and he has also managed to register two wins in the time Ferguson has been getting schooled by other lightweight contenders. At the same time, this fight is a step up to 170 pounds for Ferguson, which we don’t think bodes well for him against a man possessing the strength of Jingliang. 

Li Jingliang by points is +165 with FanDuel Sportsbook.

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Kevin Holland vs. Daniel Rodriguez

Kevin Holland will be looking to further establish himself as a contender in the welterweight division after his move down to 170 pounds earlier this year. Although this is a catchweight fight because of its short-notice nature and will therefore not make a difference in the rankings, it is a continuation of Holland’s excellent start to life at welterweight with the UFC. 

Holland has bagged himself two Performance of the Night awards in his past two fights that have been at 170, making him unbeaten in the division, while he has also not gotten out of the second round. He kicked things off with a fantastic TKO win (elbows) against Alex Oliveira, before submitting Tim Means in June.

Daniel Rodriguez is no gimmick, however, and he has only two defeats in his 18 bouts in MMA. What's more, with wins over Kevin Lee, Mike Perry and Preston Parsons, Rodriguez is also on a three-fight winning streak since his unanimous decision loss to Dalby.

What makes this fight so appealing is both Holland’s superstardom and how it is a matchup between two ferocious strikers. We think Holland will win, and we don’t see how it gets to the scorecards once again.

Kevin Holland by KO/TKO is +160 with FanDuel Sportsbook. 

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Johnny Walker vs. Ion Cutelaba

It’s arguably the biggest fight of both fighters’ careers heading into this one with Johnny Walker winning only one of his past five bouts, while Ion Cuțelaba also has just the one victory in his past five meetings in the octagon. 

To make matters more interesting, both fighters have been knocked out and lost on points during their streaks, with Walker getting TKO'd by Corey Anderson and Jamahal Hill, just as he lost on points to Nikita Krylov and Thiago Santos.

Ryan Spann, who was ironically the last person Walker beat, submitted Cuțelaba in his last fight, just as he also registered consecutive TKO losses to Magomed Ankalaev back in 2020. In fact, the only man the Moldovan has beaten in his past five fights is Devin Clark via a unanimous decision back in late 2021. 

It's a fight that could go either way, but given the odds, we like the look of Walker getting another famous TKO/KO.

Johnny Walker by KO/TKO is +260 with FanDuel Sportsbook.

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Jabs

These are some other bets worth a look on this week’s schedule:

  • Darian Weeks (-130) to beat Yohan Lainesse (+102).
  • Melissa Martinez by points (+120) against Elise Reed (+240).
  • Norma Dumont by points (-120) against Danyelle Wolf (+600).
  • Jake Collier by KO/TKO (+120) against Chris Barnett (+300).
  • Jamie Pickett by points (-140) against Denis Tiuliulin (+108).
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