Preview and prediction for Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz at UFC 263
In addition to its hyped middleweight and flyweight championship main event and co-main event, history will also be made in the third featured bout on the UFC 263 pay-per-view. Not only does it feature the return of Nate Diaz, who will be taking on Leon Edwards, but it will be the first time a UFC fight that is neither a title fight nor a main event will be scheduled for five five-minute rounds.
Following a December 2015 loss to current welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, Edwards went on an eight-fight win streak, which included victories over Vicente Luque, Bryan Barberena, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Gunnar Nelson and Rafael dos Anjos between 2016 and 2019.
Edwards did not fight in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and attempts to book him vs. Khamzat Chimaev falling through. He returned in March, with his fight against Belal Muhammad ending in a no-contest due to an eye poke.
After his pair of 2016 bouts with Conor McGregor, Diaz took a three-year hiatus before returning at UFC 241 in August 2019, scoring a one-sided decision over Anthony Pettis. He then fought Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244, getting stopped in three rounds thanks to a doctor’s stoppage.
Who will win at UFC 263: Leon Edwards or Nate Diaz?
According to the Tale of the Tape, Edwards will have a two-inch height edge, while Diaz will come in with a two-inch reach advantage. Per FightMetrics, Diaz has a higher striking output, though Edwards holds a very slightly better striking accuracy. Diaz is the slightly better striking defender by the numbers, though he’s also taken quite a bit of damage in his career.
Both have similar takedown offense numbers, but Edwards holds a much better, 70 percent takedown defense percentage.
Obviously, Diaz is an OG of this sport. He can bring in pay-per-view buys, he’s still competitive, he can still win fights at his age. He’s been in his fair share of five-round wars as well. But going against a well-rounded, 29-year-old, Leon Edwards who is in his prime and inching closer towards a welterweight title shot? This might not go so well for him.
Diaz has barely been active, if at all, for several years now, while Edwards has continued to rise up the levels at 170. Diaz may not be able to stop any takedown attempts Edwards might bring at him, and Edwards is too resourceful in any grappling exchanges.
Diaz might be able to slug it out with Edwards on the feet, but Edwards feels like the more all-around, better fighter for this day and age in MMA, and he’s got too much momentum on his side right now to slow down — especially when he probably gets a title shot with this win.
Prediction: Edwards via unanimous decision
UFC 263 takes place on Saturday, June 12, 2021, live from the Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ. Follow along with FanSided who is on-site all week for all your live news and highlights.