In a fight where most people are counting Nate Diaz out, Dan Hardy sees a path to victory.
There is a very exciting non-title fight PPV main event coming up this weekend. UFC 279 will be headlined by a welterweight fight between rising star Khamzat Chimaev and longtime veteran of the sport, Nate Diaz. Although many people may be thinking this is a runaway fight for Chimaev for several reasons, MMA analyst Dan Hardy sees a path to victory for Diaz.
Nate Diaz has been asking for a release from the UFC for some time now. He seems to be ready to move on with his career and with his new fight promotion that was just announced. Since this is the last fight on his contract many are curious to see just how Diaz performs on Saturday night. Chimaev is now 5-0 in the UFC and has proven himself to be a force in the division and is on the shortlist for a title fight, however, he is still fairly new in the UFC and Hardy believes he has not yet been tested the way he expects Diaz to test him.
Dan Hardy sees a path to victory for Nate Diaz over Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279
Speaking to Submission Radio, Hardy gave his thought on this main event bout.
“I’d be very interested to see him over 25 minutes. You know, that’s one thing that we’ve not seen. We’ve not seen him pushed. You know, I mean, he’s just running through his opponents,” he said. “Aside from Gilbert Burns, no one’s really pushed him. And when he did meet some adversity, there were moments where he looked a bit sloppy, and he got caught with a big shot. There was a clash of heads, he went down on one knee, and it was quite a dramatic fight. That’s not the person that he was when he was coming into that fight. He was like this dominant and unknown force in the division and I think Gilbert Burns kind of showed us a little bit that he is more human.”
Chimaev’s last win over Burns was the first time in his career that he was ever pushed to go the whole distance. This fight against Diaz is five rounds and the longest yet for Chmaev. Diaz is historically known as a slow starter and has the ability to drag out a fight and last into the championship rounds. Hardy thinks this will be Diaz’s saving grace against Chimaev.
“I think he’s going to try and fire blanket everything he does. Just try and smother him and slow him down,” Hardy said. “Like see with Leon, because he knows that Leon is not a fast starter, he played the opposite way with him. He liked playing games, and he did the whole Nick Diaz looking over his shoulder and the whole kiss my ass kind of thing. So that gamesmanship, that play, extended the time, when he didn’t have to do any work in that first round. I don’t know if he’s gonna be able to do that against him (Chimaev). If so, I think he’s probably gonna have to try and tie him up. I think he’s gonna slap him and box him up and try and frustrate him and get him to lose his cool, and do things that are uncharacteristic, like swing to try and knock him out. I think if you can get your mind playing that game, then he’s going to be fatigued much quicker. And that’s where Nate starts to take over.”
Many people are looking past Diaz this weekend, especially with the level of success Chimaev has had over the past few years. He is younger than Diaz and is a bigger man in general. Diaz fought most of his life at 155 pounds but this matchup is at welterweight. Hardy also attributed Diaz’s years of battle and the amount of scar tissue on his face as a weakness. The thing Diaz does have however is years of fight experience and amazing cardio. Each man will have his chance to show their skills on Saturday night. Either Chimaev will win and go onto a title shot, or Diaz will spoil the party and ride off into the sunset on a win.
Watch the entire interview here: