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CAPE TOWN – The original bad boy of the mixed martial arts returns to action tomorrow at UFC263.
Nate Diaz can do as he pleases but still remains a huge favourite among millions of fans across the globe.
Clout and fame is fleeting in this day and age, and you can tell how short-lived loyalty and favouritism is in the sport of MMA. One day you can be a hit, but just take one loss and you’ll see how your stock drops. It’s a constant need to consume satisfaction that makes so many fans jump from one athlete to the next big thing.
But there are few who manage to climb deep into the hearts of people, and Nate Diaz is one of them.
The Stockton, California-based star (21-12) who is known for serving global icon Conor McGregor (22-5) his first loss in the UFC has gathered so much traction that even when he loses, his fans remain loyal to him till the dark of night.
And this weekend, after losing to Jorge Masvidal (35-15) in a challenge for the BMF title at UFC244, he returns to the octagon to face Leon Edwards (18-3, 1 No Contest) who fights out of Birmingham, England in a welterweight bout that could secure the winner a shot at Nigerian Kamaru Usman’s (19-1) title.
Leon has grown in leaps and bounds and it may not come as a surprise if he rises victorious at the end of the night, nevermind Nate’s popularity. The former may not be the bigger name on paper, but inside the octagon, he has earned the respect of Nate hence why the superstar offered Leon the chance to fight, just like he did Jorge.
“Leon is the top guy. He is beating everybody, so why would I not want to fight the best guy,” said Nate during an interview with MMAJunkie’s Mike Bohn.
“It is impressive when you can go on and win that many times in a row. So the plan here is to beat Leon and see who is next for me,” added Nate casually during his interview with MMAJunkie.
Nate will have to be careful though, with his high volume strike rate and continuous front-foot pressure, he tends to take a lot of damage. Most people will know that Nate has a very strong cardio system and gets stronger over time, but this tends to play against him at times like it did against Jorge when Nate took lots of damage before the ref stopped the fight much to his disappointment which was evident on his body language. Yes, it is true that he was getting stronger and Jorge seemed to be tiring, but health comes first and the cuts on Nate's face were quite evident and the medical commision could just not let it slide.
Nate will therefore have to be very careful against Leon who has an appetite for throwing a barrage of attacks.
Leon is coming off a 9-fight win streak with his last fight against Bilal Muhammad ending in a No Contest after an accidental eye poke. However, prior to that, Leon put on a clinical display and was clearly dominating that fight.
The fight between Nate and Leon will be headlined by the Middleweight title fight between champion Nigerian-born Israel Adesanya (20-1) and Italy’s Marvin Vettori (17-4-1).
The Co-main event will see Flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1, fighting out of Condor Belem, Para, Brazil) run the championship rematch with Brandon Moreno (18-5-2, fighting out of Tijuana, Mexico).
The UFC 263 show, to take place in Arizona, will be broadcast live on SuperSport (SS Action, SS Grandstand, SS Maximo, SS Variety 3) from 4am (CAT), Sunday morning.
The rest of the card.
- In a battle of welterweight contenders, No. 9 ranked Demian Maia (28-10, fighting out of Sao Paulo, Brazil) locks horns with No. 12 Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1 NC, fighting out of Chicago, Ill.)
- Ranked light heavyweights collide as No. 14 Paul Craig (14-4-1, fighting out of Coatbridge, Scotland) and No. 15 Jamahal Hill (8-0, fighting out of Kentwood, Mich.) vie to break into the top 10
- No. 13 ranked lightweight contender Drew Dober (23-10, 1 NC, fighting out of Denver, Colo.) and Brad Riddell (9-1, fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand) face off in an action-packed bout
- In a light heavyweight bout, Eryk Anders (13-5, 1 NC, fighting out of Birmingham, Ala.) meets Darren Stewart (12-6, fighting out of London, England)
- No. 3 ranked women's flyweight Lauren Murphy (14-4, fighting out of Houston, Texas) seeks to secure her first UFC title shot by taking out No. 6 Joanne Calderwood (15-5, fighting out of Glasgow, Scotland)
- An intriguing featherweight bout sees undefeated No. 14 ranked Movsar Evloev (14-0, fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla. by way of Ingushetia, Russia) take on No. 15 Hakeem Dawodu (12-1-1, fighting out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
- No. 11 ranked women's bantamweight contender Pannie Kianzad (15-5, fighting out of Helsingborg, Skane County, Sweden) goes for the biggest win in her career against former title challenger Alexis Davis (20-10, fighting out of Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada)
- Frank Camacho (22-9, fighting out of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands) and Matt Frevola (8-2-1, fighting out of Long Island, N.Y.) clash in a lightweight bout all but guaranteed to entertain
- Featherweight prospect Chase Hooper (10-1-1, fighting out of Enumclaw, Wash.) plans to show off his evolving skill set when he battles veteran Steven Peterson (18-9, fighting out of Dallas, Texas)
- Fares Ziam (11-3, fighting out of Givors, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France) and Luigi Vendramini (9-1, fighting out of Brasilia, Brazil) compete in an exciting lightweight bout
- Heavyweights Carlos Felipe (10-1, fighting out of State of Bahia, Brazil) and Jake Collier (12-5, fighting out of Cuba, Mo.) look to steal the show and climb the ranks.