- Date & Location: Saturday June 12 @ Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ
- Odds: Leon Edwards (-500) vs. Nate Diaz (+350 ) via Bovada
- Prediction: Edwards via decision
UFC 263, takes place on June 12 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The event is a top-heavy one. Nate Diaz returns to action in a five-round welterweight scrap against Leon Edwards in the middle of the pay-per-view portion of the event. In the co-main event, flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno run back their December matchup, which ended in a draw. In the headlining bout, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya faces Marvin Vettori in a rematch.
Edwards is the No. 3 ranked welterweight in the official UFC rankings. He is unbeaten in his past nine fights. His most recent outing ended 18 seconds into the second round. Edwards’ opponent in that contest, Belal Muhammad, could not continue after Edwards accidentally poked him in the eye. Edwards had won his previous eight bouts. The English fighter had six decisions and two stoppages during that run, which began in 2016.
The unranked Diaz has not been as busy as his opponent. The California-based scrapper is 2-2 since 2016. He has victories over Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis and losses to McGregor and Jorge Masvidal.
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EDWARDS vs. DIAZ PREDICTION & PICK
The last time Diaz stepped into the octagon as a favorite was 2013. Josh Thomson knocked him out in that fight. Diaz has competed seven times since then. His record is 4-3 during that run. In short, Diaz is always a live underdog.
As for Edwards, he has been the favorite seven times during his unbeaten streak.
Edwards is seven years younger than Diaz. He also doesn’t have as many hard miles on his body as Diaz does.
What’s strange about this fight is the fact Diaz accepted it. Edwards does not have the name or reputation of his more recent opponents, but a win here could put Diaz right into a title fight. Accepting this fight is a calculated risk for Diaz. However, I do not think it was a wise risk.
Edwards is not great at any one aspect of MMA, but he is very good everywhere and that makes him a very dangerous opponent, especially against someone like Diaz who likes to leave himself open for offensive attacks of his opponent.
I think Edwards, with his well-rounded skill set, will take the win at UFC 263.
BETTING VALUE WITH EDWARDS
History has shown that Diaz is a live underdog, but he hasn’t fought a legitimate welterweight at the top of their game since Rory MacDonald beat him in 2011. That’s a long time to have gone without a win against a top-level 170-pounder. So, while there is a chance for an upset here, I would say it’s a small one and that if it comes it will be via decision.
As for Edwards, the odds are not great right now as far as value. I expect more money will come in on Diaz from the more casual fans as the fight approaches and that could make Edwards a better value.
Edwards is not a finisher by nature, and Diaz is a very tough out. I expect this to go the distance. However, a long shot bet might be a doctor stoppage win for Edwards. Diaz lost his 2019 bout to Jorge Masvidal because of some very nasty cuts around his eye. Diaz bleeds easily and often and if Edwards tears some of the scar tissue around the eyes of Diaz, that could lead to a stoppage. However, Edwards is not a high output striker. He lands 2.56 significant strikes per minute.
Predicition: Edwards via decision -475 via BetUs.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Looking at where these two are in their careers it’s hard to see how Edwards can lose this fight. I’m sure Diaz will make it fun and interesting, but I doubt he will be able to get Edwards out of position or make him angry enough to make a mistake. Diaz could opt to try his ground game, but Edwards has a 70 percent takedown defense, so Edwards has the advantage there as well.
FIGHT STATS: EDWARDS vs. DIAZ
|Leon Edwards||Category||Nate Diaz|
|2.56||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||4.62|
|2.03||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.78|
|1.35||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.19|
|0.4||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||1.4|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Edwards has been waiting for a title shot for a while. He lost his recently scheduled fight for the welterweight title because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. It would be a shock if a win over Diaz did not get Edwards booked for a shot at current champion Kamaru Usman.
Accepting this fight was a strategic move by Diaz. He knows that with his name and popularity he could land an immediate title fight with a win over Edwards.
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