Given his track record, Leon Edwards sounds entirely confident that letting Nate Diaz have more rounds to work will only be in his favor.
Leon Edwards may not have walked away from UFC Vegas 21 with a victory, but he has found himself with another high profile bout coming off his no contest against Belal Muhammad. Just a couple weeks after catching ‘Remember the Name’ by the eyelid, the UFC announced that Edwards would be facing off against Nate Diaz in the co-main event of UFC 262.
The bout is all the more notable as it will represent the first five-round non-title fight co-main event in UFC history. It’s a move that many fans have been interested to see the UFC make for bouts that have clear championship implications. And as the #3 ranked welterweight in the promotion, pretty much any bout with Edwards fits the bill.
However, with an opponent in front of him who has long made his reputation on relentless toughness, volume striking, and cardio, there’s some talk that a five round bout could be more advantageous to the 209’s own than the man fighting out of Birmingham, England. But that’s a line of thinking that Edwards doesn’t have much interest in.
In a recent interview with ESPN, ‘Rocky’ talked about how he sees five rounds of fighting with Nate Diaz going. To his mind, it’s all a positive for him and a negative for Diaz.
“It’s just longer punishment for Nate than anything,” Edwards said of the fight (transcript via Middle Easy). “Everyone saying it benefits Nate because when he fought Masvidal rounds four and five were where he was starting to turn on, so we’ll see. If that’s his gameplan then it’s going to be a long first three rounds.”
“I’ve never been stopped, never been submitted, never been knocked out, so I don’t understand what difference it will make,” Edwards said about his five-round fight. “I’m coming in there to hurt him, I’m coming in there to put him away, I’m coming in there to prove that I am levels above these guys. I truly believe that. I think my combinations of punches, elbows, and kicks is going to hurt him. My grappling, my cardio, I just think I’m the better man in all areas.”
Diaz hasn’t competed in the Octagon since a 2019 loss to Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC 244. That bout was stopped due to cuts, suffered by Diaz, at the end of the third round. While known for his high pace, Diaz has in fact never won a five round decision. His most recent victory came in August of 2019, when he beat former UFC champ Anthony Pettis in what was Diaz’s first fight back from his 2016 rematch loss to Conor McGregor.
For Edwards, while his string of consecutive victories may have been broken by his no contest verdict against Muhammad, the Jamaican-born fighter hasn’t tasted defeat since 2015, when he lost on points to current champion Kamaru Usman. Edwards has won eight bouts since, including five-round decisions over Donald Cerrone and Rafael dos Anjos.
UFC 262 takes place on May 15th in Houston, TX. The event is expected to be headlined by a lightweight title fight between Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler.