UFC 279 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson: Conditioning Key to Betting This New Main Event (Saturday, September 10)

UFC 279 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson: Conditioning Key to Betting This New Main Event (Saturday, September 10) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Nate Diaz

  • After a fight-card shuffle on Friday, Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson now meet in Saturday's new UFC 279 main event.
  • The two eccentric vets will fight at 170 pounds in the five-round PPV headliner.
  • Sean Zerillo favors one fighter in the matchup and has multiple ways to bet him.

Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson Odds

Diaz Odds
Ferguson Odds
4.5 (-130 / +100)
T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
Approx. midnight ET
ESPN+ Pay-per-view
Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings.

We have ourselves a new – and arguably better – main event for Saturday's UFC 279 pay-per-view.

On Friday, after some weigh-in drama and frantic card-shuffling, the UFC decided on the new main event between original headliner Nate Diaz and his replacement opponent: Tony Ferguson, who was originally slated to fight in UFC 279's co-main event.

Diaz goes on with a planned five-rounder while Ferguson, a former lightweight who's moving up a weight class just four months after a devastating knockout loss, had prepared for a three-rounder.

Who wins this makeshift main event that's got fight fans buzzing? Let's dig in.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time11:2311:00
Weight (pounds)170 lbs.155 lbs.
Reach (inches)76"76"
Date of birth4/16/19852/12/1984
Sig Strikes Per Min4.515.12
SS Accuracy45%45%
SS Absorbed Per Min3.733.81
SS Defense52%58%
Take Down Avg1.100.41
TD Acc30%42%
TD Def41%66%
Submission Avg1.31.1

After Diaz and Ferguson switched opponents – from Khamzat Chimaev and Li Jingliang, respectively – Diaz's implied win probability has moved more than 35%, from roughly 11% to 48%, while Ferguson's chances doubled after moving from a +250 underdog (28.5% implied) to a 55% favorite.

It's nice to see the pair of established stars square off in what could be the final UFC bout for both men – as opposed to their previously scheduled executions against Chimaev and Jingliang.

Diaz should be the bigger man in the cage. He'll possess only a one-inch advantage in both height and reach. Still, he's competed at welterweight for the past six years while Ferguson made the move out of desperation, following his knockout loss to Michael Chandler just four months ago. Ferguson hasn't taken the appropriate time to adapt his body to the division.

And that recent knockout is a significant concern on the Ferguson side. Typically, fighters face at least a six-month suspension after such a brutal finish, yet Tony is hopping back relatively quick while moving up in weight.

While neither Diaz nor Ferguson is a particularly big hitter, damage is still damage. And Ferguson has worn plenty of that throughout his career.

Rather than one-punch power, both fighters rely on cumulative damage and excel in wars of attrition.

Historically, Ferguson and Diaz are extremely durable, to the point of legend. Five years ago, the odds for this fight to reach a decision may have been around -250, as opposed to -125.

Still, I have reservations about either man's physical condition for Saturday.

While Diaz has phenomenal cardio, he admitted he had stopped training for the Chimaev fight. Saturday's bout is the last fight on his UFC contract, and it's entirely possible that he may not want to be in there anymore and may eventually quit, like his brother, Nick, in his return against Robbie Lawler last September.

That said, a five-round fight benefits Diaz – and his triathlon training. However, Ferguson tends to brutalize opponents over five rounds, and Diaz has scar tissue on his face that typically opens up the longer his fights go.

This matchup should be a high-paced affair between two aging legends of the sport, both of whom are extremely hittable.

While I expect Ferguson to find his best success early, I expect Diaz to take over down the stretch with superior cardio; he was training for a five-round fight and has better cardio in a vacuum.

Diaz should be able to touch up Ferguson in the extended pocket exchanges, as I expect him to have the faster hands and combinations in the pocket, particularly late.

If this fight hits the mat, it's almost anyone's guess. Both fighters keep an extremely active guard and will aggressively hunt for submissions in scrambles.

Diaz vs. Ferguson Pick

I don't see value on either side of the moneyline or the total for this fight. I would need plus money on Ferguson or +117 on Diaz to bet the moneyline.

Despite projecting the bout to reach a decision more than 50% of the time, I would lean to the under, if anything.

That said, the one bet that stood out – based on initial prop odds – is Diaz by decision (projected +316, listed +400). I'd happily poke that prop at +325 or better and look for a live bet on Diaz in the middle rounds of the fight.

The Picks:

  • Nate Diaz (+125, 0.25u at Draftkings) | Nate Diaz by Decision (+340, 0.15u at Rivers) | Nate Diaz Live after Rounds 2, 3, and/or 4

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