In the last nine years, Nate Diaz has won just four of nine bouts and was stopped twice. Yet, it’s been during that time that he has become one of the UFC’s biggest attractions, which shows that winning isn’t the only ingredient necessary for stardom.
But because of his prominent position, when Diaz fights, it’s usually a big one. His wins since 2012 have been over Gray Maynard, Michael Johnson, Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis. His losses have been to Benson Henderson, Josh Thomson, Rafael dos Anjos, McGregor and Jorge Masvidal.
On Saturday, Diaz will meet No. 3 Leon Edwards in a five-round bout on the main card of UFC 263 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Judging by the betting odds, there isn’t much faith that Diaz can get back on the right track.
Edwards opened as a little less than a 4-1 favorite. On Thursday at BetMGM, Edwards was -550 and Diaz was at +400.
I think Edwards has the better chance to win the fight, but as the number keeps rising on Diaz, it makes him more and more attractive. Is he worth betting at +400 when he wasn’t at +300, where he opened?
Well, the thing that has me wondering is the style of this fight. Typically, Diaz struggles against wrestling heavy opponents, those who can physically maul him.
That is not Edwards’ game.
Edwards is an outstanding striker, who is accurate and has a variety of strikes in his arsenal. He’s 18-3 with a no contest and has won his last eight decisions since a loss to now-welterweight champion Kamaru Usman on Dec. 19, 2015. He’s coming off a no-decision with Belal Muhammad when Muhammad couldn’t continue because of an inadvertent eye poke.
Most UFC fighters who were polled are picking Edwards, several in dominant fashion. That, of course, angered Diaz, who lashed out at them in an appearance on “SportsCenter.”
The one thing that favors Diaz is pace. Given it’s likely to be a striking battle, Diaz can push the pace because he’s extremely durable and won’t gas. This is a guy who completed a triathlon less than a month ago. Going 25 minutes in the cage, even with an opponent as skilled as Edwards, won’t be an issue for him.
Diaz takes a shot as good as anyone, and other than getting cut, he’s probably not going to be stopped.
Diaz has a way of taking opponents out of their game with his trash talk and in-cage antics.
Given I think he’ll survive, my top pick is for the fight to go the distance. BetMGM hasn’t released its prop bet odds yet, but that’s the one recommended play, the fight going over.
I think Edwards is the better fighter and more likely to win and if they fought 10 times, he might win eight or nine. But this isn’t a 10-fight series. It’s one fight and getting Diaz at +400 is attractive. I just find it hard to lay -550 on Edwards. If it were -400 or lower, I’d definitely play Edwards but it’s getting into risky territory at that number, so I’ll take the plus money and go with Diaz.
Thus, I will bet a unit on Diaz at +400 to win, as well.
Israel Adesanya to win by knockout over Marvin Vettori.
Deiveson Figueiredo to win by knockout over Brandon Moreno.
Drew Dober at -155 to win over Brad Riddell.
Lauren Murphy at +120 to win over Joanne Calderwood.
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