Avila’s teammate and mentor Nate Diaz was at the center of the drama in Las Vegas after Diaz’s original opponent, Khamzat Chimaev, missed weight by 7.5 pounds a day out from fight night. Chimaev’s egregious weight miss set in motion a flurry of last-minute card changes, which ultimately left Diaz fighting and defeating Tony Ferguson as the pay-per-view’s main event, while Chimaev took on Kevin Holland in the co-headlining bout.
Avila has been in the fight game for nearly a decade, yet the 29-year-old Diaz disciple said he’s never been part of a scene quite like what UFC 279 fight week became.
“It was a crazy two weeks. Well, we were out there for two weeks, but the whole time, yeah, it got crazier and crazier day by day,” Avila said Wednesday on The MMA Hour.
“That whole turnaround was f****** insane. Khamzat being that [overweight] was very unprofessional. And good things happen to good people, so Nate’s a f****** good dude and f****** Khamzat’s not too good of a dude. He’s a piece of s*** for f****** missing weight, and that’s on him. He ain’t going to get that bag [from fighting Diaz], so whatever. That was 2-0 for Nate, dog. That was two wins in one week.”
Chimaev’s weight miss was simply the pièce de résistance of a UFC 279 experience that was already heading off the rails. The event’s pre-fight press conference was cancelled in an unprecedented move once Chimaev, Diaz, Holland, and members of their respective teams were all involved in a backstage melee. And even before that, the entire event had a uncanny feeling to it considering Diaz’s contract standoff with the UFC and his impending free agency, with many critics believing the Chimaev vs. Diaz booking was simply the UFC’s way to punish Diaz on his way out by sending the Stockton star out on a bad loss.
“That was dirty,” Avila said, “but they got pretty exposed right there by Nate. It was a good turnout for Nate, and it all just favored him [in the end]. It’s crazy, it was crazy. It was cool that he got to fight Tony though. Tony’s an OG, he’s been in the UFC for a long time too.
“All that talk of Khamzat’s over here going to destroy, whoop, whoop, whoop, was bulls*** anyway. I think the fight would’ve turned out the same way it did with Tony, 100 percent. [Diaz would’ve submitted him,] I believe so, yeah, either standing or the same way, unless all Khamzat wanted to do was f****** hold on for dear life, scared as f***.”
As it turned out, the entire fiasco ultimately couldn’t have worked out better for Team Diaz. The popular 37-year-old exited the UFC off a high-profile win and now finds himself poised to be one of the most coveted free agents in MMA history, and Diaz’s plans are already in motion for starting his own promotion: Real Fight Inc.
It’s a project that is important to Avila as well, as Avila said he expects to represent Diaz’s new brand in his upcoming Oct. 29 boxing match against YouTube celebrity Dr. Mike, a 32-year-old physician whose real name is Mikhail Varshavski. The matchup is slated to open the Jake Paul vs. Anderson Silva pay-per-view and will serve as Varshavski’s pro boxing debut.
“I feel like it’s a good opportunity to show everybody who I am and get my name out there as well,” Avila said. “And I’m excited because I’m starting the pay-per-view off, I’m fighting a guy who gets a lot of views and he sells tickets and whatnot, and I’m excited to go out there and show everybody who are the real fighters. And I see everybody — like, the era right now is all these YouTubers coming out and trying to get in the fight game and trying to fight anybody [who’s] a real fighter. I don’t know, I’m excited, it’s a good opportunity.
“I believe I’m kickstarting [things for the brand], I’ll be the first fighter to represent the Real Fight Inc.,” Avila continued, “and then we’ve got a whole army afterward. I know [Diaz] has got plans for Real Fight Inc. soon — right after this fight, [we] plan on throwing a pretty big fight card with Real Fight Inc., and I’ve got some pretty big names that I should be fighting on there. So that’s coming soon too, that’s coming real soon actually.”
Already 1-1 as a pro boxer, Avila said he expects Real Fight Inc.’s first event to arrive in 2023.
In the meantime, the UFC vet admitted that the pressure will be on him Oct. 29 to represent Team Diaz and prove there’s a difference between a real fighter and a viral influencer.
“Who wants to lose to a guy who’s a doctor? I’m not trying to lose to no doctor. Come on,” Avila said.
“But I’m training like I would if I’m fighting Mike Tyson. I’m not training any funny s***.”