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Khamzat Chimaev predicting quick finish of Nate Diaz at UFC 279: 'I don't think that guy is going to survive one round'

Chimaev respectful of Diaz's stature ahead of Saturday's clash but confident in dominant performance.

LAS VEGAS – Ahead of his first UFC headliner, undefeated rising star Khamzat Chimaev is aware of the enormity of the moment, but he insists he's not fazed at all by the quickly increasing spotlight on him.

"All moments in the UFC are like big moments for me, you know?" Chimaev told MMA Underground. "It feels amazing. You know, I'm fighting Nate Diaz, and I'm happy for that. One of the guys who has been like 15 years in this game, you know? One of the legends, and now maybe it's his last fight. Yeah, I'm happy."

Chimaev (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) and Diaz (20-13 MMA, 15-11 UFC) top the bill at Saturday's UFC 279 event at T-Mobile Arena. The night's main card streams live on ESPN+ pay-per-view (10 p.m. ET).

It's the first time Chimaev has been scheduled in a five-round contest, but the 28-year-old contender said he didn't change much in terms of his preparation at Sweden's Allstars Training Center. After all, things have worked just fine in his first five UFC appearances.

"I'm always working for five rounds," Chimaev said. "We don't care. I just do what coach says. We do everything he says. I believe in him. He believes in me. I'm going to smash somebody and take my money and go home."

Chimaev is a massive favorite according to oddsmakers, currently sitting at -1000 at SISportsbook.com (https://www.sisportsbook.com/mma/world/ufc/chimaev-k-v-diaz-nate-e-559918/), implying more than a 90 percent probability of victory. However, Diaz is a 15-year veteran of the UFC who has developed a reputation of being nearly impossible to put away and constantly pushing forward until the final bell sounds.

The general consensus is that Chimaev will be incredibly dangerous early in the matchup, but if Diaz can find a way to extend the contest into the later rounds, the tide could potentially turn. Chimaev doesn't buy into that logic.

"If it goes two hours, I don't care, brother," Chiamev said. "I'm going to take his head. What is he going to do? Like, you know, that guy is 170 (pounds). I can fight light heavyweight, as well. I don't think that guy is going to survive one round. We will see."

There is wide speculation that UFC 279 will represent Diaz's last with the organization. The fight is the last on his current contract, and he's frequently expressed a desire to seek opportunities outside of the promotion. Even Chimaev is respectful of Diaz's history in the sport and said he hopes the 37-year-old veteran will find a way to exit the contest with his head held high.

"I hope he can survive five rounds," Chimaev said. "It's good for him to show his heart, go away from the UFC being like a warrior. If I end him in the first round, they say, 'Oh, that guy is too old. Uncle Diaz, he has to go home."

Chimaev enters the bout sitting at No. 3 in the UFC's official welterweight rankings, and while Diaz isn't in the top 15 at this point in his career, his status as a legend is undeniable, boasting clashes with current and former UFC champions such as Rafael dos Anjos, Leon Edwards, Benson Henderson, Jorge Masvidal, Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis, among others.

Saturday's order is a tall one for Diaz, to be sure. With much at stake in his own budding career, Chimaev isn't planning on playing nice for the potential farewell.

"I'm going to go and take his head off," Chimaev said. "I come here and don't take the points and play the game. I came here to smash somebody and take his head."

This story first published at SI.com/MMA.