Nate Diaz didn’t win at UFC 263, but he nonetheless authored the most talk-about moment of his five-round clash with Leon Edwards on Saturday night.
After being outclassed for the first four rounds, the Stockton, Calif., native put Edwards in retreat mode when he staggered him with a left hand in the final frame. Diaz pursued a finish but was unable to put his opponent away in the waning moments of the bout, as he went on to lose a clear-cut unanimous decision.
“The fight was a wrap,” Diaz said. “In a real fight, in the real world, that fight’s a wrap. He was sleepwalking.”
For most of the bout, Edwards blended a varied striking arsenal with takedowns to keep Diaz off balance and remain unbeaten in his last 10 UFC welterweight appearances. The Cesar Gracie protege didn’t hesitate to credit his adversary, although he did so in the most Diaz way possible.
“At the end of the day I feel like he won or whatever, but I feel like I’m the better fighter still, regardless,” Diaz said. “I feel like the peak of the fight is what matters in the fight anyway, what happened in the end.
“No hating on Leon, congratulations to him and why would you fight anybody but the top guy if you’re going to fight at all. So I wish it would have went my way, but it’s all good.”
Diaz, who was a clear fan favorite of those in attendance at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., on Saturday night, also drew high praise from UFC president Dana White for his performance.
“His leg was done in the first round. He went five rounds taking leg kicks, bleeding out of both sides of his head,” White said. “One was squirting this way, one was squirting this way. He was still doing what the Diaz brothers do. He was working the whole fight to get into his head and try to make him make a mistake, and then he eventually caught him in the fifth round. He’s unbelievable. He’s going to be asking us for a six-round fight next time.”
It was Diaz’s first Octagon appearance since November 2019, when he lost to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244 in a battle for the “BMF” belt at Madison Square Garden in New York. The 36-year-old doesn’t want to be inactive nearly as long following his latest defeat.
“I want to fight in three or four months, I’m ready to hop back in there,” Diaz said. “Just to heal up. If I was unscathed I’d be back in there next week. I was just unmotivated to train anymore because I already put in all the hard work for the last fight in Texas where it was supposed to be and then I had to linger on for another f—ing month and it just sucked. Whatever, roll with the punches, do what I had to do to get here.”
As for what’s next, Diaz never seems to be lacking for options. However, neither he nor the UFC boss have a clear path in mind.
“I don’t have nobody in mind,” Diaz said. “I’m gonna go back home and look at what’s poppin’ and who’s doing what and whoever wants to fight. If it makes sense and it’s a good idea for both parties, let’s dance.”
Added White: “I don’t know. He’s a fan favorite. People love him – win, lose or draw. I don’t know. We’ll see what’s next.”