Nate Diaz feels he was close to finishing Leon Edwards at UFC 263: ‘In the real world, that fight’s a wrap’

Nate Diaz has no doubt in his mind that he was moments away from completing a comeback at UFC 263 before running out of time.

In the first non-title, non-main event fight to be scheduled for five rounds in UFC history, Diaz fell behind on the scorecards in the first 20-some minutes of the fight before staggering Leon Edwards with time ticking down in the bout. Diaz pressed forward, but Edwards avoided a finishing blow and made it to the scorecards where he won a comfortable decision with a trio of 49-46 scores.

At Saturday’s post-fight press conference, Diaz was asked how close he felt he actually was to putting Edwards away and his response was definitive.

“The fight was a wrap,” Diaz said. “In a real fight, in the real world, that fight’s a wrap. He was sleepwalking.”

Though Diaz authored the most damaging sequence of the fight, for the most part it was Edwards who expertly picked Diaz apart from range while chipping away with counters and leg kicks. Diaz’s attempts to goad Edwards into a brawl failed to break the Englishman’s rhythm and it looked like Edwards was cruising to a decision win before he was tagged in the closing minutes.

Diaz was complementary of Edwards’ performance and doesn’t regret jumping right back into the deep end of the welterweight division after a layoff of almost 600 days.

“At the end of the day I feel like he won or whatever, but I feel like I’m the better fighter still, regardless,” Diaz said. “I feel like the peak of the fight is what matters in the fight anyway, what happened in the end.

“No hating on Leon, congratulations to him and why would you fight anybody but the top guy if you’re going to fight at all. So I wish it would have went my way, but it’s all good.”

Diaz and Edwards were originally scheduled to be the co-main event of UFC 262 in Houston this past May, but the fight was pushed back due to Diaz suffering a minor injury. According to Diaz, it was a cut that forced him out of that event and it also prevented him from training, which threw off his preparation and motivation.

He’s eager to get back in action as soon as the new cuts he suffered in his fight with Edwards heal up.

“I want to fight in three or four months, I’m ready to hop back in there,” Diaz said. “Just to heal up. If I was unscathed I’d be back in there next week. I was just unmotivated to train anymore because I already put in all the hard work for the last fight in Texas where it was supposed to be and then I had to linger on for another f*cking month and it just sucked. Whatever, roll with the punches, do what I had to do to get here.”

A few potential opponents were brought up to Diaz at the UFC 263 post-fight presser, including rematches with Conor McGregor or Jorge Masivdal, or possibly a matchup with another veteran who competed on Saturday, Demian Maia.

As he has in the past, Diaz is going to weigh his options.

“I don’t have nobody in mind,” Diaz said. “I’m gonna go back home and look at what’s poppin’ and who’s doing what and whoever wants to fight. If it makes sense and it’s a good idea for both parties, let’s dance.”

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