Nate Diaz faces the formidable Leon Edwards at UFC 262.
Leon Edwards is on a roll, as he is coming off an eight-fight win streak, his no-contest bout with Belal Muhammad aside. He will look to make his case for a title shot against UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. However, for that to happen, 'Rocky' would need to defeat the fan-favorite Nate Diaz.
Nate Diaz is currently unranked but has a significant pull on the PPV buy-rates. Although labeled as an underdog in this fight, the younger Diaz brother can give Edwards a tough time inside the octagon.
Here are five reasons why Nate Diaz could cause a major upset against Leon Edwards at UFC 262.
#1 Better Conditioning
Nate Diaz is one of the few fighters in UFC with great physical conditioning. It's a known fact that he has been a regular swimmer and runner since his childhood days. Years before getting into the UFC, the Stockton native started doing triathlons, something that has given him godly endurance and conditioning.
Meanwhile, Leon Edwards has had fair success in his previous five-round bouts too, especially against Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone. Nate Diaz, though, has arguably better experience despite more losses in his five-round bouts when compared to that of Edwards.
Nate Diaz's last five-round fight came against Conor McGregor at UFC 202, a duel that he lost narrowly. In that fight in 2016, Diaz visibly gassed out McGregor, making him run around in the later rounds to avoid getting pounced on.
With almost five years gone since that bout, Nate Diaz has had enough time to rethink and work on his gameplan to make it more effective. In other words, Leon Edwards could have five gruelling rounds ahead of him at UFC 262.
#2 Nate Diaz has a 'rock chin'
Nate Diaz has one of the strongest jaws in the world of MMA. Period.
Along with his tough-as-nails attitude, Nate Diaz also has a chin that can easily eat some of the toughest shots an opponent has to offer.
Ever since coming into the UFC in 2007, Nate Diaz has had 24 fights, where he won 14 and lost ten. Only one of his ten losses have come via knockout. The TKO loss came against Josh Thomson in 2013 after Nate Diaz endured a flush head kick and a few follow-up punches before his older brother threw in the towel.
Nate Diaz has survived the challenge of a number of heavy hitters throughout his UFC years, including Conor McGregor.
In fact, at UFC 196 and 202, McGregor kept knocking Nate Diaz down, but the latter just kept getting back up. Impressed by the American's granite jaw, Conor McGregor lauded Nate Diaz post UFC 202, saying: "He has a rock chin".
It remains to be seen if Leon Edwards can hurt Nate Diaz's rock chin at UFC 262.
#3 Longer reach
At 193 centimeters, Nate Diaz has a five-centimeter reach advantage over Leon Edwards. That could be particularly handy for the southpaw while throwing counter hooks and his famous 'Stockton Slaps' at the British fighter during UFC 262.
Leon Edwards is known to have a good striking game, as he mixes up his punches with leg kicks to maximise their efficacy. This is an area where Nate Diaz must do well to capitalise on his superior reach advantage to beat 'Rocky'.
Let's do a quick recap of some of the fights where Nate Diaz used his better reach advantage. Against Anthony Pettis, Diaz rained down 205 strikes in comparison to Pettis's 86. Similarly, in the BMF title bout against Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz landed more strikes. However, he gave away more significant strikes to Jorge Masvidal, causing his right eye to cut open.
In his UFC 202 bout with Conor McGregor, too, it was Nate Diaz who landed a higher volume of strikes. However, he lost the fight via unanimous decision, as McGregor registered a higher conversion percentage.
In his UFC 262 bout against Leon Edwards, Nate Diaz would need to cut back on throwing punches recklessly to keep a good conversion rate.
#4 Nate Diaz is a Jiu-Jitsu black belt holder
Nate Diaz has always been known for his excellent ground game. He is a practitioner of the renowned Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and has a black belt in the martial art. In comparison, Leon Edwards is a Jiu-Jitsu purple belt.
Leon Edwards can be seen attempting take-downs on his opponents in almost every fight. But Nate Diaz has a ton of take-down defense moves in his inventory to protect himself against the Birmingham native.
Moreover, Nate Diaz is pretty good with sweeps, reversals and ground control. When Conor McGregor attempted a take-down on Nate Diaz at UFC 196, every living jiu-jitsu practitioner knew it was a mistake.
The glaring disparity between Nate Diaz and Leon Edwards is in submissions. In comparison to Edwards' three career submissions, Nate Diaz has eleven.
Evidently, Nate Diaz is a more experienced fighter when matters are taken to the mat. That is is why he is capable of causing a major upset against Leon Edwards at UFC 262.
#5 Nate Diaz is hungry for success
Nate Diaz has repeatedly fallen out with UFC and the UFC president Dana White owing to his pay. Time and again, Nate Diaz has pulled out of fights, asking the UFC to either renegotiate his contracts or cut him out.
Nate Diaz has never had a title shot, neither in the lightweight division nor in the welterweight division. The closest he came to winning any kind of belt (after The Ultimate Fighter 5) was at UFC 244 for the BMF (Baddest Motherf***r) title. Fighting against Jorge Masvidal, though, Nate Diaz lost via TKO (due to doctor stoppage).
Nate's older brother Nick Diaz, meanwhile, has won the welterweight title in Strikeforce, WEC and the IFC.
After Nate Diaz's loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 202, he took a three-year-long layoff. Returning to the octagon in 2020, he could only garner a mixed bag, beating Anthony Pettis and losing to Jorge Masvidal.
It is high time Diaz proves to the world that he isn't past his prime, and he knows how to cause an upset. Defeating Leon Edwards would not only revive Diaz's career but also set him on the way to earning a welterweight title shot soon while also getting the money he wants.
UFC 262 will not be just another fight for Diaz. There's good reason to believe much of his career rests on the result of this fight, which is why the Stockton native could come out all guns blazing.