Canceled Diaz vs. Khamzat Fight Was “Assassination Attempt”
MMA veteran Dan Hardy again took issue with UFC President Dana White and his handling of his fighters. This time the issue was with White’s attempt to pit Nate Diaz against Khamzat Chimaev in the UFC 279 main event.
Nate Diaz was unranked and had not won in three years. Chimaev is one of the top welterweight contenders and has been mauling most of his opponents. Dan Hardy did not mince words when he told “Freedom Pact” podcast what he thought:
“Imagine Nate Diaz (fighting) Khamzat Chimaev. We all know what that was. We all knew what that was. And fortunately it worked out that fight didn’t happen, and then what did we get from Dana the week after? ‘It’s a good thing that fight didn’t happen. That would’ve been really bad.’ Like yeah, man. I don’t have to buy your bullshit anymore, because I know it’s bullshit. You know what you’re doing. It was an assassination attempt. They were trying to bury (Diaz) before he left his UFC contract.”
Diaz had been attempting to get out of his UFC contract for almost a year but had been held up by debate about who his last fight should be against. The UFC convinced Diaz to accept the Chimaev fight, much to the dismay of many in the MMA community. The fight was eventually called off because Chimaev weighed in well over the welterweight limit.
Chimaev was substituted by Tony Ferguson, who Diaz defeated in the UFC 279 main event. Diaz has now been released from his contract and is a free agent. Hardy views the attempted scheduling of Diaz against Chimaev as punishment for plans to leave the UFC.
“That Chimaev against Diaz fight felt more like – it just felt like an execution. And that, to me, felt like you’ve got one person or one small group of people that are using one part of the roster to punish the other part of the roster. That’s not sport. That’s dogfighting. It’s just ugly. It’s just an ugly thing, and it make me feel uncomfortable, because I love the sport, and that would damage it.
Hardy again echoed his concerns that the UFC was focused more on their own interests than the safety of their fighters. He believes that the UFC eventually realized pitting Diaz against top fighter Chimaev would damage their image.
“Imagine if Nate had gotten really badly hurt. Straight away it would’ve cast a shadow over the UFC, it would’ve been all over the news in a negative way, and it would’ve made us all feel uncomfortable, because we knew it was happening. It was fortunate the MMA gods shined down on us that day. But I also feel like there was some meddling in the background to make sure that didn’t happen. Because I think the closer the fight got, the more the UFC realized how much they were gonna bury themselves if Nate got hurt.”
Hardy charged the UFC to live up to their reputation as premier league in the sport.
“For me, the UFC has already established itself as the figurehead of the sport. There’s no doubting that, and I don’t think for a second that any other organization is gonna come close to what the UFC are and what they’re doing. They will always be the premiership for mixed martial arts. They just need to act like the premiership. They need to act like the premiere league in the sport. They need to be the custodians of the sport.”
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