Diaz hasn’t competed since losing the “Baddest Motherf*****” title fight against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244 in November 2019. In a UFC first, Diaz will fight No. 3 ranked 170-pounder Leon Edwards in a five-round non-title fight co-main event. The fight will take place during UFC 262 in Houston, Texas, on May 15.
Edwards is a highly talented competitor who has gone 10-1 (and 1 NC) in his last 12 bouts. “Rocky” last fought in March while riding an eight-fight win streak. It was snapped, however, after the fight was ruled a no-contest due to an illegal eye poke Edwards landed on his opponent, Belal Muhammad.
With victories over the likes of former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, Gunnar Nelson and Vicente Luque, Edwards recently told ESPN that he believes over Diaz will be enough to earn a title fight.
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Edwards Is ‘Coming In to Hurt’ Diaz, Believes He’s ‘Levels’ About the Rest
Diaz is known as a five-round fighter, using his cardio and volume punching to overwhelm his opponents deep in the fight. However, Rocky is no stranger to five-round battles, winning two-for-two by unanimous decision (defeating Donald Cerrone in 2018 and dos Anjos in 2019).
Edwards told ESPN that if Diaz plans to rely on the fourth and fifth rounds to take over the contest, he’s focusing on a losing strategy.
“Everyone says [five rounds] benefits Nate because when he fought Masvidal, and he was getting battered for three rounds, (everyone said that) rounds four and five were where he was starting to turn on. We’ll see,” Edwards said via BJPenn.com. “If that’s his game plan then it’s going to be a long first three rounds.
“Let’s say I go out there and batter him from pillar to post for three rounds, you only got two rounds to win. Let’s say he does win the two rounds, which he won’t, but let’s say he does win it, I still won the fight,” Edwards said. “I’ve never been stopped, never been submitted, never been knocked out, so I don’t understand what difference it will make. You can go to a decision and I’ll probably win a decision. So I’m coming into there to hurt him, I’m coming in there to put him away, I’m coming in there to prove that I’m levels above these guys. I truly believe that. Every time I fight I believe I’m levels above these guys.”
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Title Shot If Diaz Defeats Edwards on May 15?
One of the interesting storylines going into UFC 262: what happens if Diaz defeats Rocky? Edwards is ranked No. 3 in the world and could be next in line for a welterweight title fight against the winner of UFC 261’s Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal.
So if Diaz gets his hand raised, does he jump the line at 170-pounds because of the magnitude of the victory? Or, will he need to defeat another top-five contender before earning his second UFC title shot? Before anything, Diaz has to tackle the monstrous task ahead of him in the form of England’s Edwards.