The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Glendale, Arizona for the first time in well over a year tonight, as UFC 263 goes underway live on pay-per-view.
Headlining the event is a championship bout between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and No. 3 ranked UFC middleweight contender Marvin Vettori, a rematch from their 2018 scrap that saw Adesanya the victor via split decision.
Co-headlining the event is another championship rematch, this one between UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and former WFF & LFA flyweight champion, No. 1 ranked UFC flyweight contender Brandon Moreno.
Nate Diaz also returns tonight in the feature fight of the evening, as he faces No. 3 ranked Leon Edwards in the UFC’s first ever five-round non-title, non-main event bout.
Let’s talk about that one, it’s in the title, right?
This fight makes no sense, we all know that, but we all love it at the same time.
Diaz isn’t ranked at 170 lbs, and he’s coming off a defeat to former two-time title challenger Jorge Masvidal, a fight that was getting more competitive as it went on. That’s not the most shameful thing in the world.
However, Diaz does lose a good amount of his fights, but he always fights the best. Not to mention, he still wins a lot of those fights.
He’s defeated multiple multi-organization champions, such as Anthony Pettis (WEC & UFC), former Cage Warriors & UFC champ-champ Conor McGregor, to perhaps the greatest fighter ever to have never won a title in Donald Cerrone.
Not to mention guys like Jim Miller and Gray Maynard, who were both at the top of the lightweight division when he finished, you guessed it, both of them. You really cannot deny his potency at times.
Edwards on the other hand came into his last fight against Belal Muhammad in March, coming off a two-year layoff, but on an eight-fight win streak.
All that work was put in only to have the bout end in a no contest. He was winning the fight handily, but he was not declared the victor, like he wanted. Now he looks to have his coming out party tonight at UFC 263, and go undefeated in his last ten.
Continue reading to see how this epic 170 lb encounter went down:
Official Result: Leon Edwards def. Nate Diaz via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Edwards comes out and takes the center, and he’s getting some nice leg kicks going early on, as many expected.
Diaz is taunting Edwards a good amount, much like his brother Nick did against Anderson Silva. He does it a few times, the last of which he turns his back to Edwards, before lunging in with powerful punches.
Diaz lands a nice hook-jab combo, before Edwards takes him down and keeps him down for the rest of the round.
The first half of round two mirrored the first half of round one, up until Edwards took Diaz down again.
Diaz attacked a leg lock, but was only able to use it in order to escape. He’s playing games in this round as well, trying to bait Edwards into him so he can use his boxing, he knows he isn’t as fast as Edwards.
It’s working to an extent. He is getting Edwards to throw hands with him and forget about his kicks here and there, but not enough for it to be an advantage for him.
Edwards opens round three continuing with his leg kicks, and lands some nice clean punches as well, primarily his left cross. Diaz ties up and presses him into the cage again, but Edwards separates not long after. Diaz then lands a beautiful overhand left, but Edwards remained unfazed by it.
Edwards then took Diaz down again and landed some vicious elbows, which opened a nasty gash, as every one of us expected would happen. Of course, Diaz is unfazed by it, and he starts pressing the action even more following.
Diaz opens round four with a beautiful jab-cross combo, before he ties up with Edwards again.
Edwards separates and lands a hard overhand left that momentarily stuns Diaz, he’s throwing much harder in this round. He’s definitely looking for the finish as this fight’s gone later.
Edwards then foot sweeps Diaz, and then just lets him back up, just to make him feel stupid.
Diaz lands another nice combo but continues tying up with Edwards afterward. He needs to lunge in to land the punches, but stay at punching range in order to have success with it. He isn’t able to take Edwards down, and he’s losing most of the fight.
Don’t get it mixed though, Diaz is certainly having his moments.
Leon Edwards lands a nice combo and another beautiful foot sweep right at the start the round, and again just lets Diaz back up. Diaz lands a hard cross and ties up with Edwards once again.
After Edwards separated he stuns Diaz with a hard left, before Diaz lands another beautiful jab-cross combo.
Diaz then lands another jab-cross, before pulling back for another hard cross. Edwards responds with a beautiful uppercut-overhand that stunned Diaz again, but only for a split second.
Diaz then lands a right hook-left cross combo that hurt Edwards badly with just one minute left.
Edwards’ legs were gone, he was in all sorts of danger, wobbly as can be, and Diaz cracked him a lot afterward as well. Edwards was able to tie up with him and negate the power of some of those strikes, but he was hurt up until the final bell.
What a comeback this would’ve been for Nate Diaz. Just two days after Claressa Shields made her legendary comeback, that almost happened again here tonight.
The sad thing is, Leon Edwards probably won’t get his due for this victory, it’s unfortunate. Diaz has been a lightweight most of his career, as have a number of Edwards’ previous opponents, and he nearly got knocked out by him at the end.
Nonetheless, it was a great performance by him, a great effort by Diaz, and a great fight for us to witness.
On another note, Nate Diaz becomes the 21st fighter in UFC history to pass the five hour mark inside the octagon, which is fitting, because he was 21 years old when he came over after winning The Ultimate Fighter 5.
If you enjoyed this piece, please feel free to share it on social media!
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.