Nevertheless, a facet of that run that have to be considered, is the extent of competitors he’s stood reverse from when the Octagon door closes. Let it’s recognized, the Crew Renagade BJJ & MMA trainee is primed for a title shot off the again of a win over Diaz on Saturday night time. And may Diaz lodge what can be fairly the upset victory, nicely then he’s received his choose of the bunch subsequent at 170lbs — together with a title shot — which is equally as weird as this matchup within the first place.
Edwards can solely struggle whoever is forward of him. However, with a problem like Diaz, you may’t actually advantage a title shot with a win. It’s arguably as high-profile a struggle he’s been part of since his streak post-Usman started, nevertheless, it simply appears a bit questionable how a victory over Stockton veteran, Diaz in 2021 can put the ending touches on a title tilt incomes run for a division elite.
The Brummie is as underrated a contender you’re more likely to discover, although. A finisher of fights isn’t one thing that springs to thoughts immediately while you envision Leon Edwards, nevertheless, his skill to set a tempo and in the end draw back with fairly a big lead is one thing that ought to come to the forefront instantly.
Stylistically, he’s a really achieved striker, rather more so than Diaz. He’s received a kickboxing strategy which permits him to arrange kicks each excessive and to the midsection off the again of some actual polished boxing mixtures, and his work within the clinch with break-away elbows, and posting photographs make him a harmful proposition for Diaz, who suffered the brunt of his harm early towards Jorge Masvidal again in November of 2019 off the again of hanging out within the clinch for too lengthy.
Previous to his March return earlier this yr, it had been a interval of 19 months and 24 days of inactivity for Edwards, with the novel coronavirus pandemic shelving a UFC Combat Night time London most important occasion towards former welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley in March of final yr. Excessive-profile pairings towards the surging, Khamzat Chimaev have been additionally shelved three separate occasions between December final and March.
Lastly, he returned at UFC Vegas 21 towards Belal Muhammad, in a bid to lastly stamp his title challenger credentials. In a interval of limbo previous to struggle night time with the promotion edging towards Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal II — issues actually couldn’t have gotten worse for Edwards come the fruits of struggle night time.
Showing sharper than ever in a bid to lastly earn a rematch towards Usman, Edwards wobbled Muhammad within the first spherical with a left high-kick, nevertheless, an inadvertent eye poke known as for a halt in proceedings.
Within the second body, Edwards’ outstretched hand as soon as extra stabbed the attention of Muhammad. And this time, left Muhammad, falling to the canvas in agony, with referee, Herb Dean left with no different possibility however to name the struggle there after which. An official ‘No Contest’ — and Edwards’ momentum had been halted and the tires carrying him to a title tilt, slashed.
19 months and 10 days. The final time Nate Diaz stepped foot contained in the UFC Octagon. November 2019. Madison Sq. Backyard. Headlining reverse Masvidal — Diaz put his proverbial BMF championship on the road following a unanimous resolution return over former light-weight greatest, Anthony Pettis that August.
Struggling badly within the clinch inside the opening minutes of the primary spherical, Diaz was sliced, as has been the norm as of late, with an enormous elbow from the Floridian, earlier than catching an enormous high-kick on his strategy to the canvas. A protracted beating later and Diaz was prevented from seeing a fourth spherical — by the Octagon-side physician, in addition to perhaps his proper eye, because the abundance of scar tissue had opened, leading to two sizeable cuts each above and beneath his proper optic. Disputing the stoppage initially, Diaz actually didn’t have a lot to argue about, aside from the truth that he believes he would have been capable of swing the tide of the struggle within the remaining two rounds; a struggle he had been dropping fairly one-sidedly previous to the stoppage.
It appears to be ‘ask and also you shall obtain’ for Diaz, nevertheless, Edwards doesn’t look like have been first on the record of potential comeback opponents for The Final Fighter 5 victor. Atop his record sat now-minted light-weight champion, Charles Oliveira, in addition to one-time scheduled opponent, former interim 155lbs titleholder, Dustin Poirier.
Difficult both to a welterweight battle, regardless of the actual fact each firmly ply their commerce at light-weight — Diaz settled for Edwards. And stylistically, he’s seemingly picked himself the hardest opponent at welterweight at present outdoors of the defending Usman, and the #1 rated, Colby Covington. Kudos.
The truth that this struggle, once more, fairly bizarrely is sanctioned to happen over 5 rounds, can solely play into Diaz’s favour, given the truth that he has previously rallied late on. Case examine, UFC 202 towards Conor McGregor particularly. But when Edwards lays out a technical beating early and extended, I don’t count on a mountain-climbing efficiency within the latter rounds from Diaz.
Diaz’s final submission victory got here within the type of his UFC 196 toppling of McGregor through a second spherical, rallying rear-naked choke. However, once more, McGregor was on his final legs previous to that, because of some stinging photographs on the ft. Earlier than that, it’s important to return to Could of 2012 to seek out his final submission win; a powerful second spherical stoppage of Jim Miller. Don’t count on Diaz’s grappling to grow to be the actual outlier towards Edwards, nevertheless.
There’s most actually a ceiling to Diaz’s general skill, even from the onset of his early run with the UFC post-TUF — and simply two months faraway from his thirty sixth. birthday, and with vital miles on the clock in comparison with Edwards who’s hitting what appears to be his profession stride, it will be nothing in need of silly than to sway away from the Birmingham native on this one.
The narrative that Diaz tends to progress and actually come alive within the later rounds is one which’s been pushed by the Stockton native himself. And with out that a lot proof to again up that principle, in actual fact, we’ve received to go together with Edwards, particularly given the actual fact he’s been capable of set a tempo previously over the course of 5 rounds towards each Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone, in addition to how he’s a lot sharper on the ft than Diaz.
Prediction: Leon Edwards def. Nate Diaz through resolution
Senior author for FightBook MMA. An aspiring blended martial arts reporter primarily based in Eire. Producer of stories articles, interviews, opinion options, and unique options similar to, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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