Since 2004, Nate Diaz has made his home in the cage. He makes his homecoming this Saturday at UFC 263, as the iconic mixed martial artist looks to defeat the heavily favored Leon Edwards.
“I’m the underdog?” asks Diaz. “I ain’t sweating it. We’ll see what happens.”
There are precious few certainties in life, especially in the chaos of a pandemic. Yet one that has stood the test of time for more than three decades is that Nate Diaz will never back down from a fight.
“I’ve been fighting forever,” says the 36-year-old Diaz. “That is what I do, and it’s what I plan on continuing to do. The toughest part is when I’m not fighting. It’s hard for me to sit back and watch other people fight. Watching fights, seeing the top guys, obviously I want to fight them.”
Diaz is fighting against Edwards (18-3, 1 NC), a top welterweight contender who had rattled off eight in a row before a no-contest in his last fight and is currently ranked third in the division. He is in the midst of paving a path to a middleweight title shot against reigning champ Kamaru Usman, but that all changes if he loses on Saturday.
Edwards is not a knockout specialist, so it will be very hard to finish Diaz via a KO. If both fighters stay on their feet, then the safe bet is that Edwards wins. But Diaz is tough and will be looking to survive Edwards’ striking, then wear him down and lock on a submission for the win.
In spite of all the damage he has accumulated over the years, it would be foolish to ever count out Diaz. And while Father Time will forever remain undefeated in the cage, the idea of backing down from a fight remains a foreign concept.
“He’s one of the top guys right now, and he’s knocking out wins left and right,” said Diaz. “And I want to fight the best fighters.”
This marks the first fight for Diaz since November of 2019, when he lost to Jorge Masvidal in the ceremonial BMF title bout at Madison Square Garden. That affair was curtailed by referee stoppage, right as Diaz was picking up momentum after a very competitive third round. UFC 263 is a new opportunity for Diaz to reassert himself, putting a debilitating dent into Edwards’ hype train if he finds a path to victory.
“I always train, but it’s good to be back with my team,” says Diaz. “It feels good to have support and love from the fans, and right back at everybody. [I] appreciate it all, and it’s good to have that energy behind me.”
Win or lose, the fight world is a far more electric place when Diaz is prominently featured. And that electricity will be flowing as Diaz makes his tried-and-true walk to the cage on Saturday night, returning to a terrain he knows intimately well.
“I think of this like war,” said Diaz. “You have to get through the war and make it home. This is a war zone. And your main objective is coming home.”