Nate Diaz must be the only man on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) roster who can lose 23 minutes of a 25-minute fight and still walk out with everyone feeling like he won via some mysterious street law judging criteria.
For four rounds, Edwards played it smart and kept Diaz on the outside, winning the war of exchanges when the Stockton slugger was forced to close the distance and lunge in. But in round-five, Diaz caught Edwards with his patented right Stockton slap to left cross combo and rocked the Brit. For the final 90 seconds, he stalked Edwards and nearly put him away.
It redeemed a performance that felt a bit lackadaisical, something Diaz blamed on that month delay caused by a bad cut suffered in camp.
“I got cut in training that’s why we had to push the fight back,” Diaz said during the UFC 263 post-fight press conference. “I kind of lost all motivation to train and work out hard and all that, so I kind of just lingered around for a month waiting for war. At the end of the day, I feel like he won but I’m the better fighter still regardless. The peak of the fight is what matters in the fight, no hate on Leon, congrats to him and why would you fight anyone but the top guy if you’re gonna fight at all? I wish it would have gone my way but it’s all good.
“I know he knows how to get through fights and win fights, and this is the highest level of fight, so that’s cool,” he continued. “I just kind of winged it all, kind of walking through that fight trying to get to that next point in this whole game. I didn’t feel like I was ever in any danger, of course I got cut and that f—king sucks but I was unmotivated in training and I was just trying not to use any energy anywhere, I was just cruise controlling.”
As for what Diaz thought of the final moments where he finally took the upper hand?
“I thought the fight was a wrap,” Diaz said with a laugh. “In a real fight, in the real world, that fight’s a wrap. He was sleepwalking.”
This was Nate’s first fight since losing to Jorge Masvidal in Nov. 2019, so a big question on everyone’s mind was how long it’d be before the mercurial younger Diaz brother might return for another fight. Sometimes he turns things around in three months. Other times it’s three years.
“I wanna fight in three or four months, I’m ready to hop back in there,” Diaz declared. “Just heal up, if I was unscathed I’d come back in next week. I was just unmotivated to train because I already put in all the hard work for the fight in Texas where it was supposed to be and then I had to linger on for another f—king month and that just sucked. Whatever, roll with the punches. Do what I had to do to get here.
“I don’t have anybody in mind, I’m going to go back home and look at what’s poppin’, who’s doing what, and whoever wants to fight. Let it be known, if it makes sense and it’s a good idea for both parties, let’s dance,” he concluded.
Of course, no press conference would be complete without a question about fighting one of the Paul brothers. Following the fight Jake Paul threw down the gauntlet and said he wanted to fight Diaz after he fights Tyron Woodley, and Nate seemed mildly open to the idea if a bit more excited about boxing legend Andre Ward declaring him a real threat in boxing.
“Hey, those are all options,” he said. “And it’s great to hear Andre Ward talk about me, he’s one of the greatest of all time in boxing, I believe, pound for pound that’s the man so it’s cool that I’m getting recognition from him at all.”
With Diaz’s head once again a hamburger mess of scar tissue, we doubt he’ll return until the end of 2021. But, with that last-minute rally against Edwards proving in many fans’ minds that he can hang with the boys at the top of the 170-pound division, there’s a lot of interesting options for Nate’s future.
For complete UFC 263: “Adesanya vs. Vettori 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE.