Leon Edwards thinks the UFC aren’t doing Nate Diaz any favors by pitting him against Khamzat Chimaev in his final octagon appearance.
Diaz (20-13 MMA, 15-11 UFC) will finally get his wish of completing the last bout on his current UFC contract when he meets Chimaev (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in the main event of UFC 279 on Sept. 10, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and airs on pay-per-view.
Although Diaz openly campaigned for the fight if it meant an opportunity to test free agency, there’s a sentiment from at least some portion of the public that the matchup is illogical, or perhaps even unfair.
Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC), who shared the octagon with Diaz in his most recent bout at UFC 263 in June 2021 and won a unanimous decision, aligns with that notion. He thinks after more than 14 years of service on the roster, the promotion could’ve provided a more style-friendly matchup to one of the most popular fighters to ever grace its cage.
“If I had to put money on it I’d probably go Khamzat – but I’d love Nate to get it done,” Edwards told MMA Junkie and other reporters during a recent media scrum in London. “He’s done so much for the company and I wish they gave him a veteran, a nice fight to bow out to. To give an up-and-coming guy that’s had four or five fights in the UFC, and a wrestler guy as well – I think they f*cked up. They should’ve gave him a better fight. But I would love Nate to get it done. But as I said, if I’m a betting man I’d probably go with Khamzat.”
Edwards and Diaz were respectful before and after their fight at UFC 263, and it’s clear “Rocky” still holds his former foe in high regard.
It’s no secret that Diaz has been disgruntled as he’s publicly pushed to fight out his UFC contract or be released from the roster in the months since he fought Edwards. Now that it’s all set to play out, Edwards said he hopes Diaz finds whatever happiness he’s chasing.
“You can’t not like Nate,” Edwards said. “He is who he is. I’ve watched this guys coming up at 16 or 17 when I was getting into MMA. I wish him well in his career and whatever he wishes to do next. (Boxing) Jake Paul or wherever he decides to go.”
Edwards is scheduled to return to action at UFC 278 on Aug. 20 when he challenges Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title in the headlining act at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.