At UFC 262 in Houston on Saturday, May 15th, Britain’s Leon Edwards finally gets the big-name opponent he’s been begging for in Stockton, California’s Nate Diaz. It’s the first 5 round co-main event matchup in UFC history.
Edwards is the number 3 ranked UFC welterweight who hasn’t lost since December 2015. Diaz is coming off a stoppage loss to Jorge Masvidal in December 2019. Leon Edwards is the early betting favorite and is expected to beat the American.
Here are 5 reasons Nate Diaz will be an easy fight for Leon Edwards.
If there is one glaring weakness to Nate Diaz’s game, it’s his wrestling. When Diaz has been defeated in the past, it's usually been via control on the ground. Nate has a granite chin and has only been knocked out once in the UFC by Josh Thomson via head kick.
Leon Edwards has good takedowns and trips that he can use to get Diaz to the ground. While Diaz is a BJJ black belt and very active on the ground, he hasn’t submitted anyone since Conor McGregor in 2016. Edwards is a BJJ purple belt and is very good at controlling fighters on the ground while staying out of submission attempts.
The obvious path to victory for Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards is to mix in takedowns with his strikes to outpoint Diaz over 5 rounds.
#4 5 Rounds
The matchup between Edwards and Diaz is scheduled for 5 rounds. Now many people will think that gives Nate an advantage as the Diaz brothers are famous for their non-stop go-forward great cardio style. However, if you look at the two fighters’ records, 5 rounds does not necessarily favor Diaz.
Edwards has been scheduled 3 times in 5 round fights and has an undefeated record of 2-0-1, with wins over Donald Cerrone and Rafael Dos Anjos alongside the recent no contest with Belal Muhammad.
Meanwhile, Nate Diaz has been scheduled to fight 5 rounds 4 times and has a record of 1-3. The one victory is his most famous against Conor McGregor at UFC 196. He was defeated by Jorge Masvidal, Benson Henderson, and Conor McGregor in 5 round main events.
Neither Edwards nor Diaz are known for their highlight-reel knockouts but there is a difference in striking skills. Leon Edwards has a complete standup striking skill set. He throws crisp boxing combos with high and low kicks and vicious elbows in the clinch. The sheer variety of strikes is what sets ‘Rocky’ apart from Diaz.
Nate Diaz uses the famous ‘Stockton Slap’ and good volume boxing to confuse and tire opponents out. Outside of his boxing, though, he lacks the variety of strikes on the feet to trouble world-class UFC fighters.
#2 Diaz's scar tissue
The Diaz brothers are famous for their non-stop fight pace, weird interviews and bleeding in the octagon. Nate Diaz has suffered serious facial cuts in his past two UFC fights. It was a cut from Jorge Masvidal's elbow that eventually ended the ‘BMF’ title fight at UFC 244. Anthony Pettis was also able to cut Diaz in their bout at UFC 241.
Unfortunately for Diaz, Leon Edwards is known for throwing elbows in the clinch and will no doubt be targeting the scar tissue on Nate’s face. ‘Rocky’ could win the fight via doctor stoppage from one elbow or a well-placed kick or punch.
#1 Welterweight fight
Leon Edwards has never fought at a weight class under welterweight in his professional MMA career. Nate Diaz has spent most of his UFC career at lightweight and will enter this fight as the smaller man.
Edwards stands 6ft 2 inches tall compared to Diaz at 6ft. However, Diaz does have a slight reach advantage. The big difference is when the two get into grappling exchanges and Edwards can use his larger frame to control Diaz.
When Diaz has fought at welterweight he’s faced mainly blown-up lightweights like himself. Examples of this include Conor McGregor, Anthony Pettis and Jorge Masvidal. When Diaz has been matched against large welterweights like Rory MacDonald, he has been thoroughly dominated.