We don’t get to see Stockton native Nate Diaz fight very often these days; the southpaw has been very selective when choosing opponents since his two fights with Conor McGregor in 2016. This is somewhat understandable, as not many fights come with the same paycheck as fighting the Irishman.
Although we should’ve seen Diaz fight at UFC 262 last month (he sustained a minor injury), fight fans should still count themselves lucky to witness the Californian face Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards at UFC 263 this Saturday. Diaz could have easily waited it out in the hope of a lucrative McGregor trilogy fight, but in choosing Edwards, he arguably faces his toughest test to date in the octagon.
Fighting out of Birmingham, UK, Edwards is a dangerous natural welterweight currently on an eight-fight win streak inside the octagon. Edwards comes into the fight as a heavy favorite. Here are three things to expect if Nate Diaz beats Leon Edwards at UFC 263:
#3 Nate Diaz vs Leon Edwards 2
Of the eight fights 'Rocky' has won in his active streak, six have gone the distance, while Diaz has gone the distance four times in his last six fights. This bout will be the UFC's first non-main event non-title fight scheduled for five rounds, and assuming Diaz doesn't lose too much blood, based on their history, it should go past three rounds.
Judging by Edwards' resilience inside the octagon, a knockout or submission victory seems unlikely for Nate Diaz, so his path to success is likely going to be on the judges' scorecard. With this in mind - and the potential for this to be a 'Fight of the Year' contender - a hard-fought Diaz win should instigate an instant rematch.
As many of the ranked welterweights will be busy over the next few months - Kamaru Usman is likely to face Colby Covington again, Gilbert Burns v Stephen Thompson at UFC 264 - a rematch would certainly be the only fight that makes sense for Edwards, especially if he wants a title shot anytime soon.
#2 Nate Diaz post-fight speech
Prior to his first fight against Conor McGregor in 2016, not many people gave Nate Diaz a chance against ‘The Notorious,’ least of all the Irishman himself. Overlook this dangerous vegan at your own peril; Diaz submitted McGregor in the second round, providing fight fans with one of the most shocking moments in UFC history.
Perhaps even more memorable was the Californian’s post-fight speech - the now-iconic “I’m not surprised…” - a moment Nate Diaz savored as he proved all his doubters wrong. It seems like there are even more doubters this time around, so don’t be surprised if the man representing ‘209’ entertains on the microphone if he wins.
#1 Nate Diaz v Kamaru Usman
Currently on a groundbreaking 14-fight win-streak in the UFC, it seems nobody can stop ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Kamaru Usman. With a rematch against Colby Covington likely soon, the question remains: if he wins, who is next for the UFC welterweight champion?
Perhaps Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, if he can make it past Gilbert Burns at UFC 264 next month. If Burns is victorious, then a rematch with Usman is probably not his next step; ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ won their first fight so convincingly.
Ever the underdog, should Nate Diaz beat Leon Edwards on Saturday, surely a fight against the champion is the most interesting bout to be made in the welterweight division?
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