Was anyone really surprised by Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz? You cannot have been, right? Edwards, the Southpaw with a ripping left kick and excellent wrestling, was able to pretty unceremoniously beat the bejeezus out Diaz for the majority of 25 minutes. It was a great performance by “Rocky,” sure, but it was also a fight that we have all seen before several times over.
Benson Henderson, Rafael dos Anjos, Jorge Masvidal — these men all scored similarly-dominant victories over Diaz with nearly the same tactics. Yet, also like most everyone else, I was still excited to watch the fight, even though the end result seemed set in stone ahead of time.
There is a certain indefinable timeless quality to the younger Diaz brother. As Edwards came after him with spinning elbows, calf kicks, step-behind sweeps and other modern weapons, Diaz responded with the same one-two combination that he’s thrown for way over a decade now. When Edwards cracked him with a perfect left hand, Diaz would still shake his head to indicate otherwise, same as if he were still in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) house.
Diaz is as reliable as he is fun. He spent a huge portion of the fight getting dominated, getting his leg chewed up for the umpteenth time. A few minutes into the first, Diaz was goofing off and showing his back like Nick did vs. Anderson Silva back in 2015. In a sport that seems to change constantly, Diaz is a constant, even when taking 18-month breaks.
There was a moment between the third and fourth round, where I felt transported to 2012. Diaz is sitting in his corner, covered in cuts with a wounded leg. His long-time boxing coach Richard Perez — who is seldom in the Octagon for any other reason but a Diaz fight — asks him to throw the one-two combination. In the background, Gilbert Melendez says something along the lines of, “Get this motherf—ker!” Seriously, what year is it? I swear that exact scene has gotten more play than The Office reruns, yet it was authentic as could be.
At some point, the facade has to end, right? Diaz cannot keep convincing us to excitedly tune in when he’s hopelessly outmatched. If he’s going to compete at Welterweight, he has to someday defeat a Welterweight, right? Right?!?
Diaz made sure that his next bout would be equally intriguing in the final minute of this five-round contest. By landing that one left hand cleanly and hurting Edwards — badly! — Diaz ensured at least three more high-profile fights. Because of that final flurry on a wounded Edwards, the most devoted (delusional) Diaz fans can argue that he won — reminder: neither Diaz has ever lost a fight by Diaz rules — while the rest of us can eagerly look forward to his next bout.
I’m already excited for Diaz’s 2024 rubber match with Conor McGregor. I am quite confident he’ll get cut to pieces, and his lead leg will get battered. Richard Perez, Gil Melendez, and big brother Nick will be there to urge him forward. Just as all hope appears lost, Diaz will rally ... and maybe even win.
Either way, the stakes will then be high for his 2026 return.
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