Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz Moved to UFC 263 in June

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On May 15, welterweights Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz were due to meet in a clash to determine who will progress to title contender status for UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman’s strap.

Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz Rescheduled to UFC 263

The pair were due to serve as the co-feature to Charles Oliveira’s vacant UFC lightweight title bout with Michael Chandler at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Edwards-Diaz was set to be the first-ever five-round co-feature in UFC history.

The fight was a somewhat surprising announcement given how, just a month before it was confirmed, Diaz had insulted Edwards by claiming he didn’t even know who he was. That has somewhat backfired on Diaz, who will now be very aware of who Leon is.

There’s no denying that UFC 262 won’t be the same spectacle without Edwards and Diaz facing off, despite this, UFC 262 betting odds market are still sure to attract plenty of attention with some eye-catching fights taking place.

Despite the Edwards-Diaz fight has being suspended to UFC 263, the delay is unlikely to change the fact that Leon Edwards 18-3-0 (1 NC), will be a healthy favorite to beat Diaz and extend his nine-fight unbeaten streak. That being said, the Brit has only had five minutes of Octagon time in the past two years.

Despite his obvious talent, he’s struggled to get fights and when ones have been signed, they’ve fallen through. When he did finally return to action in March, his bout with Belal Muhammad was aborted 18 seconds into the second round after an accidental eye poke.

Prior to that, Leon Edwards had been on a tear, scalping the likes of Rafael Dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone and Vicente Luque to establish himself as a leading contender at 170lbs. Indeed, his last defeat, which came in 2015, was to Usman who now obviously holds the title. His only other loss in the UFC came a year earlier when Claudio Silva beat him on a split decision.

Having never been stopped or submitted in his three career defeats (one of which was a disqualification), Edwards has proven himself a difficult fighter to beat at welterweight. A solid southpaw, ‘Rocky’ is an excellent all-rounder who is most comfortable on the feet, where he uses a textbook blend of strikes to pick opponents apart. 

Though he’s not known as a huge puncher, Edwards can wear opponents down and take control of fights, particularly over the distance – he’s won two five-round decisions in his career, whereas Diaz has never even won one.

Seven years younger than Diaz, the Birmingham man is arguably in the prime of his fighting career and also holds a two-inch height advantage over his American rival, though Diaz does have a longer reach.

Stockton’s Diaz is undoubtedly the bigger star in this fight, but his recent form and inactivity make him a tough pick to come out on top. He hasn’t fought since November 2019 when he was stopped due to cuts against Jorge Masvidal, who was recently knocked out by Usman.

Best known for his stunning 2016 upset win over Conor McGregor, the 36-year-old is a veteran of the UFC with a 21-12-0 record. Diaz first rose to prominence way back in 2007 when he won The Ultimate Fighter, earning himself a place in the UFC that he has kept ever since.

Despite his double-digit losses, Diaz – alongside his brother, Nick – has long been a fan favorite, in large part due to his aggressive style and willingness to get involved in bloody firefights. A triathlete outside of the UFC, Diaz uses his outstanding engine to outlast opponents and throw lots of strikes. 

He’s also a jiu-jitsu expert, often using submissions to end fights, and this is one area of the fight where he does have a clear advantage over Edwards. Prior to his 2016 win over McGregor, Diaz was a career lightweight, though since that victory has remained at welterweight. Though certainly not outsized at 170lbs, Edwards has a lot more experience at the weight.

It’s unlikely Edwards-Diaz will start with a lot of drama. Both men will be looking to ease themselves in with such little fight time in recent years, plus neither of them are particularly fast starters.

Leon Edwards likes to keep things at range, draw leads out of his opponents and then counter them. Diaz will not be shy, so he’s likely to walk onto a few decent shots throughout the fight. Leon is also effective in the clinch, working himself into a dominant position, and when he breaks he uncorks one of his most dangerous weapons; his elbows. 

The scar tissue around Diaz’s eyes makes him particularly susceptible to cuts, so if Edwards can tee off a few elbows then it’s likely he’ll draw blood. However, Diaz has an excellent chin and has never been dissuaded by a bit of claret.

The American’s best bet is probably to drag the fight into the later rounds and attempt to take the fight to the ground. There, Diaz would look to gain top control and try to lock in one of the dozens of submission holds he has in his arsenal.

Neither Leon Edwards nor Nate Diaz have fought for a UFC title, but when they meet in June, they will be vying for a spot as the next welterweight challenger. Despite his popularity among fans, Diaz will enter the octagon a betting underdog, with most observers expecting Edwards’ versatility and freshness to see him through this historic match-up.

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