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UFC 263’s Nate Diaz believes Leon Edwards was the best opponent available: ‘I feel like this is the title’

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Nate Diaz will make his return to the Octagon tomorrow night (Sat., June 12, 2021) live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, for the first time since his TKO loss to Jorge Masvidal back in Nov. 2019.

Despite Diaz’s time off he is returning to a massive welterweight clash with streaking contender Leon Edwards. It’s not the most logical matchup considering Diaz is unranked at 170 pounds, but his star power speaks for itself. Edwards needed a dance partner and Diaz was happy to oblige.

This time around, Diaz is returning to a MMA landscape that has changed even since his last appearance in 2019. New fighters have risen and old fighters have fallen. Diaz has retained his UFC stock value, but he understands that the game is not all that it used to be.

“There’s a new breed of people all across the board,” Diaz told UFC.com. “They (other fighters) have always been older guys to me in the game, OGs and people doing their thing, fighting and competing, but now it’s all just a bunch of new guys and a bunch of new names – new talent, new styles. Everything’s new. So I’ve been sitting back and watching a lot of stuff go down.”

Luckily for Diaz, he’s still in the driver’s seat when it comes to his UFC career. He remains one of the promotion’s biggest needle movers and a fighter that still beats to his own drum. Diaz believes that he brings more to the table than almost any other fighter, and for that reason he thinks his fights are a level above the rest.

“I feel like this is the title,” Diaz said. “There’s not much that you can do more in the game than fight me, as far as I’m concerned. I fought all these guys and done better and done more than everybody, so this is what you get when you get a title.”

While Diaz likely could have drawn a few different names for his return to action he decided that Edwards was one of the bets choices. Edwards isn’t necessarily a household name but he’s won his last eight trips to the Octagon and is easily one of the very best welterweights in the world. His skills simply speak for themselves and that’s what Diaz is looking for if he’s unable to lock down some of the more high-profile names.

“He’s quiet and not a person that a lot of people know,” said Diaz of Edwards. “If I’m not gonna fight the biggest fight I could possibly find, I’m gonna fight the best fighter that I could possibly find. I’m out there to show people that I’m the best of the best and not just to fight on TV for fun.

“I always want to compete like I always have, and I always want to stay busy, but it’s hard for me to just fight with unnamed opponents and people who haven’t done much yet,” he continues. “Not that they can’t and won’t, but they just haven’t yet, and that’s why I’ve been out. I like challenges and tough opponents and big stuff to happen.”

For Diaz, this is his chance to get back into the UFC win column, knock off one of the toughest fighters on the roster today, and set himself up for a massive opportunity at the end of the year. It’s not going to be easy but Diaz has done this whole song and dance before.

“Once I kick it off, I want to keep the show going,” he said. “I always want to stay busy, so hopefully there’s something out there for me after this one, too.”

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 263 fight card right HERE, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.