Halfway through UFC 274 the UFC finally announced the details of UFC 276, their big International Fight Week card in Las Vegas on July 2nd.
Headlining the card is Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier for the middleweight title. And in the co-main event: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 3 for the featherweight title. Missing from the card: a rumored bout between rising star Khamzat Chimaev and OG badass Nate Diaz.
The UFC had never officially teased that fight for UFC 276, but a video released by the Pivot Podcast captured shots of the promotion’s matchmaking wall. Featured in the co-main slot for the event: Chimaev vs. Diaz. Unfortunately it never made it into the final line-up.
Asked about the bout at the UFC 274 post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White explained the deal with the matchmaking leaks.
“Yeah, some of those are just placeholders,” White said. “So when we go in there, we’ll have placeholders in place. None of that stuff are done deals. Some of those are just placeholders. Some of them are done, and some of them aren’t.”
Asked if he was still interested in putting together a Khamzat vs. Nate fight, White said “Yeah.”
But when pressed on the status of the fight he replied “I don’t know.”
Khamzat Chimaev seems like he’d accept a fight with a bear if the UFC offered it to him, so the big question is where Nate Diaz’s head is. On Twitter, Diaz is all bluster about wanting a fight yesterday. It’s unclear exactly what’s stopping that from happening, but the UFC repeatedly demanding he face Chimaev tells you something about the promotion’s willingness to work out a deal that is in Nate’s best interests.
The MMA Hour’s Ariel Helwani recently spoke on the Diaz vs. Chimaev fight, shedding some light on Nate’s current position.
“When I say something that’s kind of an idea, more often than not unless I explicitly say otherwise, it is rooted in fact,” Helwani said. “So a couple of weeks ago I said I wouldn’t be surprised if Nate Diaz just says ‘Give me Khamzat so I can get on my merry way.’ Remember when I said that? Back to the previous statement: more often than not, rooted in fact. Okay?”
“Is it a done deal?” he continued. “No. Is there something there? Yeah, there is something there. But I don’t know what’s going to happen.”