As revealed by bossman Dana White himself, UFC 279 was their 25th consecutive sell-out card. But as we all know by now, there was a ton of drama during the lead-up to fight night, which led to a major shake-up in the top three fights on the main card.
The headliner itself saw a major change. Nate Diaz ended up facing Tony Ferguson after supposed opponent Khamzat Chimaev missed the welterweight limit by 7.5 pounds.
According to Diaz, he “lost count” of how much money the UFC offered him to stay on the card. What we haven’t heard about was how things transpired on the side of “El Cucuy” and how he was made to agree to the Diaz fight.
All of that was revealed in this ESPN feature by Brett Okamoto, which relayed those final 14 hours leading up to the event coming from inside sources. With regards to the Ferguson situation, it was apparently sealed after a conversation with the UFC’s Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell on the morning of the weigh-ins.
(Ferguson) drove himself to the Apex, and on his way in, he noticed a beautiful Bentley sitting in the parking lot. Ferguson is something of a car guy — he appreciates a good ride when he sees one — and he admired the Bentley on his way in.
Inside the Apex, Campbell and Ferguson met face-to-face for the first time that morning. The 38-year-old former interim champion calmly told the UFC he liked the idea of saving the card and he liked the fight.
In fact, he and his camp had even joked about this very possibility weeks ago — but he needed to speak to his wife before accepting. Ferguson said he consults his family on all decisions pertaining to his career.
It was at this point when the conversation between Ferguson and Campbell supposedly took an interesting turn.
After Ferguson weighed in, while everyone was still at the Apex, he went back to visit with Campbell. Some say he was half-joking, others say he was completely serious: He told Campbell he really needed to think about it more, and that he would probably do his best thinking behind the wheel of that expensive Bentley parked outside.
Campbell threw Ferguson the keys and said, “You take the car for as long as you want. I don’t give a shit about the car.” About 45 minutes later, Ferguson and the Bentley were back, and he agreed to move into the main event.
Ferguson ended up losing to Diaz via fourth-round submission to rack up five straight defeats. But getting to take one of his boss’ luxury cars on a joy ride must’ve been a win in itself.