MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at one of the biggest fights at UFC 263, a five-round welterweight bout between Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz. The event takes place on Saturday, June 12 at Gila River Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
Leon Edwards (-600)
Edwards (18-3, 1 NC) is the No. 3 ranked welterweight in the UFC. The 29-year-old Edwards has been in the UFC since 2014 and he has racked up an impressive 10-2, 1 NC record over that time. He is currently riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak, with wins over notable fighters such as Rafael dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone, and Vicente Luque during that stretch. Edwards is a very well-rounded fighter who has good standup, solid wrestling, and very good conditioning. Outside of a loss to current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, Edwards has never been truly dominated in any of his fights. He seems like he’s close to getting the rematch, but he’ll need to beat Diaz first.
Nate Diaz (+450)
Diaz (20-12) is one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster. The 36-year-old American has been in the UFC since 2007 when he won “The Ultimate Fighter” season five and since then he has been one of the biggest fan favorites and most exciting fights in the world’s leading MMA promotion. While fighting at 155lbs and 170lbs over the years, Diaz has fought many of the best fighters in the sport, and he has notable wins over the likes of Conor McGregor, Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone, to name a few. Diaz has won his fights by utilizing his excellent boxing, slick submissions, and incredible durability and cardio. He is extremely tough and hard to finish and he has proven to be a tough out even in his losses. However, Diaz is getting up there in age and he hasn’t fought since November 2019, when he lost via TKO (cuts) to Jorge Masvidal. It’s hard to say what version of Diaz will show up in this fight. If it’s the Diaz who fought McGregor twice it’s possible, but if the version of Diaz who fought Masvidal shows up instead, it could be a rough night for him here.
Fight Breakdown: I really want to find a reason to pick Diaz here given the lopsided odds, but I just can’t. Edwards is the far better MMA fighter at this point of their careers, and he’s in this prime at age 29. At 36, I do think Diaz is in the decline phase of his career. Remember, it’s been over five years since he beat McGregor, and he’s barely fought since then. With Diaz coming off of a long layoff and haven’t taken so much damage throughout his career, I don’t like this matchup for him against a very solid striker like Edwards who is also able to mix in his takedowns. I am also worried that Diaz will get cut open again, which could lead to the fight being stopped. Most of the time, I see Edwards being able to outpoint Diaz and win a decision in this one, so that’s the way I’ll go here.
Prediction: Leon Edwards