Two years removed from his last walk to the Octagon, Nate Diaz returned at UFC 263 in a blood-splattered effort that saw Leon Edwards dominate from bell to almost bell in a decision victory from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Edwards hurt Diaz from the opening bell, wearing away one of the toughest UFC fighters with stinging leg kicks. Diaz’s gamesmanship was on display early on, often turning and showing disinterest before jumping into attack. Edwards was locked in though, continuing to wear away at Diaz’s leg, with some visible swelling and bruising early in the second.
— UFC (@ufc) June 13, 2021
In the third, Edwards opened a big cut over Diaz’s left eye with a sharp elbow from the ground. He continued to show his dominance whether they were on their feet or on the ground, transitioning seamlessly with control in both situations.
Through the fourth and fifth, Edwards moved away from the leg kicks, instead headhunting and looking to finish the elder Diaz. With a minute remaining in the fifth, Diaz hurt Edwards bad with big flurry, but couldn’t finish the welterweight contender.
Nate Diaz came alive late in the 5th round 🤯
— ESPN (@espn) June 13, 2021
Diaz hadn’t fought since 2019, when he earned a decision victory over Anthony Pettis before suffering a TKO to Jorge Masvidal, unable to continue after he blew his nose at the end of the third, causing his eye to swell shut.
Edwards hasn’t lost since he dropped a decision to Kamaru Usman in 2015. Since then, he’s rattled off eight consecutive wins and a no contest, when he drew with Belal Muhammad in March. After his win over Diaz, Edwards again called for the next shot at Usman’s belt.