Leon Edwards aiming to raise profile against Nate Diaz

Leon Edwards is, in such a way, the polar reverse of the male he’ll stand throughout from in the cage on Saturday at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

Nate Diaz, Edwards’ challenger at UFC 263, has actually ended up being a bigger than life figure in spite of an up-and-down record and prolonged durations far from the video game.

Edwards has actually had a prolonged duration out, too, however he’s 8-0 with a no-contest because his last loss, a 2015 choice to Kamaru Usman, now the UFC champ. Edwards acquired his popularity when Jorge Masvidal left an interview to punch him, which he considered “a three piece and a soda.”

Where Diaz is vibrant and outrageous, Edwards, a -650 preferred at BetMGM, is dull and simple. A minimum of, it must be kept in mind, he’s simple and non-controversial beyond the Octagon.

However Edwards, who thinks he — and not Colby Covington — is worthy of the next chance at Usman for the welterweight belt, stated he won’t be vanilla inside the cage.

“I’m a much bigger guy,” stated Edwards, who is No. 3 at 170 pounds. “I’m a natural welterweight and I’ve been a welterweight my whole career. My shots are going to impact him more, you know? My [advantage] is on the feet, 100 percent. I’m a much better striker in all departments. Also in grappling, I’ve proven time and time again that I’m a well-rounded martial artist.

“I’m not a guy who goes in and looks just to strike, or whatever. I’m going to go in and mix it up and use whatever I need and, basically, to take him apart.”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 13: (L-R) Leon Edwards of Jamaica punches Bulal Muhammad in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Leon Edwards (L) punches Belal Muhammad in a UFC welterweight battle on March 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (Picture by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC through Getty Images)

Edwards has actually been an exceptional story in increasing to contention. However he’s had an amazing string of misfortune that kept him out of the cage for almost 2 years.

He beat Rafael dos Anjos on July 20, 2019, and after that didn’t return to work till March 13, 2021. The break out of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 required cancelation of his scheduled bout with ex-champion Tyron Woodley. Then he signed to combat uber-prospect Khamzat Chimaev.

First, Edwards got COVID, then Chimaev did. That battle was scheduled three times before it was finally scrapped for good. Edwards returned on March 13, but his string of bad luck followed.

After he had a good first round, he inadvertently poked Belal Muhammad in the eye. Muhammad couldn’t continue and the battle was a no-contest.

But Edwards said he got what he needed out of that bout.

“I don’t really believe in ring rust in the first place, because I work so hard and I’m always training and working on my skills,” he said. “I got in there, I prepared for the fight, I did the weight cut and then I made the walk and I fought. It got stopped in the second round, and that was terribly unfortunate. What difference would it have been if I had knocked him out in the first or second? None, to be honest. But because of the way it ended, people made an issue of it, but it’s fine.”

So on a loaded card, one filled with great fights top to bottom, Leon Edwards is kind of being overlooked.

It’s not, though, because of his fighting ability.

“Leon Edwards can fight, man, bottom line,” UFC president Dana White said. “All the other stuff, it’s secondary and not really that important. What matters is whether you can fight, and Leon Edwards has shown again and again that he’s one of the best fighters in the world. That’s what is important.”

And Edwards wants to use a stirring victory over Diaz to remind the world what he’s capable of and to put himself into a position for a title battle.

He wants to force White’s hand by fighting so well, he gives White no option other than to change his mind and pit him next against Usman.

“Nate Diaz has this reputation and all of the hype and that’s actually good for me,” he stated. “Everybody will be watching and when I do what I do, people are going to want me to be the one [fighting for the title next].”

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.