After five rounds at UFC 263, Leon Edwards won a unanimous decision over the always-game Nate Diaz.
If you had been asked, in the months following UFC 244 and the sideshow that was the “BMF” title fight, who Nate Diaz would return to action against, few would have selected Leon Edwards.
Diaz, after all, was coming off a stoppage loss to Jorge Masvidal. Edwards was in title contention, on the best run in the welterweight division outside of the champ.
Names make money, however. They put fans in seats. And they can make careers — something Edwards no doubt had in mind when signing on for a five-round non-title, non-main event fight with Diaz at UFC 263.
Diaz started the fight with a long left hand that came up empty then started messing with Edwards, turning his back to him to taunt him. Edwards planted a leg kick after a short exchange. Diaz landed a solid body shot then a combination followed by a taunt. They got tangled up and Edwards dragged him down, taking his back with one hook in. It was an awkward position until Edwards scrambled and took his back more cleanly. Diaz eventually worked his way to guard and paid for it, eating a heavy right hand. The round ended on the feet as Diaz got up from his back.
The second of five rounds began with a leg kick for Edwards. A two-punch combination connected for Edwards and Diaz responded with more taunts that led to a brief exchange. They then traded leg kicks and Diaz brought out a clinch from Edwards with an accurate combination. A takedown for Edwards soon followed and Diaz countered with a leg attack, forcing Diaz to stand up. A leg kick buckled Diaz then both fighters landed a combination. The round came to a close with Edwards leading.
Edwards got off to a great start in the third round, landing several strikes and a leg kick that did damage again. Edwards got him down and landed heavy elbows, cutting Diaz open above the eyebrow and the side of his head. Diaz got back up, flexed, and was promptly flipped off by Edwards. Diaz was taken down again, with Edwards taking his back. Diaz bucked him off and got back to his feet and we headed to the fourth round.
Edwards ate some long punches to start the fourth round, then landed a huge left hand that got a thumbs up from Diaz in response. Another left landed for Edwards followed by a trip that got the approval of Diaz. More lefts landed for Edwards and Diaz connected with a three-punch combination. Edwards was picking Diaz apart though, landing a huge elbow.
Edwards started the final round with a two-punch combination. A heavy left hand staggered Diaz again, but it’s hard for anyone to get more than a stumble out of the veteran. Diaz landed a pair of combinations and backed Edwards to the cage to clinch up with him. The fight remained on its feet with Edwards landing kicks to the body and head. Out of nowhere, Diaz rocked Edwards with a one-two with over a minute left and had Edwards on the ropes. Diaz continued to push forward, but Edwards’ defense held strong. Edwards was able to survive to the final bell, winning a unanimous decision.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 13, 2021
Leon Edwards def. Nate Diaz by Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)