While some might believe that a five-round fight would favor Nate Diaz, Leon Edwards feels just the opposite ahead of the pair’s co-main event bout at UFC 262 next month in Houston.
The fight, which will serve as the first five-round non-title co-main event in UFC history, will mark Diaz’s first trip to the Octagon since November 2019, when he suffered a defeat to Jorge Masvidal at Madison Square Garden. That fight was stopped just before the fourth round due to a cut over Diaz’s eye, and although some believe the Stockton native was beginning to turn the tide, Masvidal had controlled the action up until that point.
Ahead of UFC 262, Edwards believes having five rounds to work will only allow him to find more success against Diaz.
“It’s just longer punishment for Nate than anything,” Edwards told ESPN (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 game plan, then it’s going to be a long first three rounds.”
Like Diaz, Edwards hasn’t been all that active in recent memory. Before returning to action last month against Belal Muhammed, he hadn’t competed since July 2019, which wasn’t entirely his fault. And to make matters worse for the 29-year-old, his fight against Muhammed was deemed a no-contest after an accidental eye poke left Muhammed unable to compete. Before that, however, he was riding an eight-fight win streak.
The 36-year-old Diaz, meanwhile, remains one of the sport’s biggest stars, although he’s only competed twice since 2016. Having spent most of his career at 155 pounds, he’ll have a tough task in front of him in Edwards, who’s currently ranked as the No. 3 welterweight in the UFC.
Ultimately, “Rocky” is coming to prove a point on fight night, and he’ll enter the cage with nothing but bad intentions.
“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.”
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.