Leon Edwards has been one of the unluckiest fighters since the covid pandemic started. From having his main event with Woodley called off to multiple fights with Chimaev collapsing to the unfortunate eye poke against Belal Muhammad, it hasn’t been his year. Riding an eight-fight win streak, it was clear that Leon just needed that one extra push, one more statement win to solidify himself as the number one contender.
With the likes of Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal unwilling to take the fight, Edwards was left frozen out of the top five of the division for a long time. Though his record contains wins over the likes of Rafael Dos Anjos, Gunnar Nelson and ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, he hasn’t been able to get that one marquee name on his record despite trying over and over again. Then suddenly, with Dana White suggesting that Colby Covington will fight Kamaru Usman next, in steps Nate Diaz.
Unquestionably one of the sports biggest stars, Diaz said he only wanted to fight the very best guys on winning streaks and for that, look no further than Birmingham, England’s finest. Though it was postponed a month, the anticipation for this fight was massive. As many expected, Edwards was just too much for Nate Diaz as he controlled the striking range, cut Diaz up and landed a few takedowns. The big question then became whether Edwards would be able to finish Nate to get a highlight reel moment. Though this seemed out of the question by the fifth round, a completely dominant performance against a legend like Nate Diaz would finally give Edwards the marquee name his record needed.
With one minute left to go in the fight, Diaz landed a simple 1-2 combination that had Edwards struggling to stand. As Diaz tried to end the fight in the very last minute, ‘Rocky’ was forced to do all that he could to survive the late onslaught and emerge as the winner. Though he made it to the final bell, all of the talking points diverted to Nate Diaz and his legendary no quit attitude. Stealing the moment from Leon, the final minute was what got the fans in attendance off of their feet in applause for Stockon’s own.
The night should have belonged to Leon Edwards, not just earning his best win to date but completely dominating the fight. Instead, the legacy of Nate Diaz stole the entire show as UFC 263’s most iconic moment. With Colby Covington still seeming the most likely to challenge Usman next, Leon Edwards’s terrible luck continues. He beat Nate Diaz in every aspect of the fight for 24 minutes and still was unable to grab the headlines and get people talking about his long overdue title shot against the last man to beat him.