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5 reasons why the UFC 263 fight between Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz could be an all-time classic

Leon Edwards vs Nate Diaz
Leon Edwards vs Nate Diaz
Sai Krishna
FEATURED WRITER

Even with two title fights on the main card, the UFC 263 bout between Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz has been the center of attention for a few weeks now.

Israel Adesanya defends his middleweight title against Marvin Vettori, while Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno face off in another highly anticipated rematch. But one of the biggest star attractions of the UFC this month is the welterweight clash between Edwards and Diaz, which was initially set for UFC 262 but postponed after the latter sustained an injury.

Here are five reasons why the UFC 263 fight between Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz promises to be an all-time classic.


#5 Leon Edwards looked incredible in his last fight

UFC Fight Night: Edwards v Muhammad Weigh-in
UFC Fight Night: Edwards v Muhammad Weigh-in

In March earlier this year, Leon Edwards made a return to the octagon for the first time since July 2019. He took on Belal Muhammad in the main event of UFC Fight Night 187, with a win expected to propel him into the welterweight title picture.

Things didn't go to plan for Edwards, whose bad luck in the UFC continued as the fight was adjudged a no-contest due to an accidental eye poke. But in the five-odd minutes of time he spent in the cage, the Brit didn't look like he had been on the sidelines for around two years.

Edwards moved well, mixing up his punches with well-aimed kicks, one of which stunned Muhammad early in the first round. Had 'Rocky' shown signs of ring rust against Muhammad, we may have been in for a scratchy fight at UFC 263, since he got to spend only one round against 'Bully'.

But with a solid performance under his belt, Leon Edwards will look to capitalize against Nate Diaz.


#4 Both Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz have a point to prove

UFC 244 Masvidal v Diaz
UFC 244 Masvidal v Diaz

As mentioned earlier, Leon Edwards was in welterweight title contention even before taking on Muhammad. He was on an eight-fight win streak in the UFC, with wins over Donald Cerrone, Gunnar Nelson and Rafael dos Anjos. With a convincing performance against Nate Diaz, Edwards could propel himself back to the top of the pile at welterweight.

UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman hasn't expressed much interest in a potential match-up against Colby Covington, who many argue deserves the championship fight. And with Usman having beaten Edwards back in December 2015, when 'Rocky' wasn't anywhere close to his prime, a rematch could entice the champ into putting things beyond doubt as he did with Jorge Masvidal.

Meanwhile, Nate Diaz too has a point to prove. At 36 years old, he doesn't have a lot of time left in his UFC career. If he wants a shot at the title, which Usman might be willing to grant him provided UFC president Dana White sees eye-to-eye, he needs a win against Edwards.


#3 The styles of Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz point towards non-stop action

UFC Fight Night: Edwards v Muhammad
UFC Fight Night: Edwards v Muhammad

Nate Diaz is a fighter who simply does not stop moving forward. Blessed with one of the best chins in the history of MMA, the Stockton native can absorb pressure like no other - when his scar tissue allows it.

Diaz's relentless pressure, combined with Leon Edwards' intelligent counter-striking, should amount to a fascinating clash of styles at UFC 263. Should the fight touch the mat, both fighters are more than capable of holding their own. And should it stay on feet, neither man will back down.

Leon Edwards, too, is capable of pushing the pace when he needs to, and the styles of him and Nate Diaz point towards non-stop action.


#2 The bout between Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz will be five rounds

UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje
UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje

For the first time in UFC history, a fight that isn't the main event of a card will be five rounds long instead of the usual three. When asked why he allowed this to happen, UFC president Dana White simply stated that both fighters asked for it and that he agreed to their demands.

A five-round clash between Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz promises action that a three-round encounter can't. We've seen fighters like Tony Ferguson struggle in three-round fights, where they don't have enough time to adjust to their opponent. This won't be the case at UFC 263.

Also, while Diaz has always been known for his impeccable conditioning, Edwards appears to be in the best shape of his life at 29 years old.


#1 The return of Nate Diaz

UFC 244 Masvidal v Diaz
UFC 244 Masvidal v Diaz

One of the biggest stars in the UFC right now even though he's fought only twice in almost five years, Nate Diaz returns to the octagon at UFC 263. He was last seen in action in 2019, when he took on Jorge Masvidal for the BMF belt.

Any fight involving Diaz promises entertainment, both inside and outside the cage. The 36-year-old is not only a fan favorite but also a fighter who is literally never in a boring fight.

Will Nate Diaz make another winning return to the UFC, like he did against Anthony Pettis in August 2019? Or will Leon Edwards get in the win column for the first time since July 2019? Only time will tell. But one thing is guaranteed at UFC 263 - fireworks.


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Edited by Atharva Papnoi
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