There was an unexpected, incredible finish to Leon Edwards’ welterweight fight against Nate Diaz at UFC 263.
Despite being dominated for the majority of the five-round contest, Diaz – with blood streaming down his face – caught Britain’s Edwards with a monster straight left hand with only a minute to go.
Edwards was immediately on wobbly legs as the crowd exploded and Diaz chased Edwards around the Octagon, trying to land the finishing shot.
Despite landing several more punches, none connected cleanly enough to put Edwards down and the 29-year-old survived to hear the final bell. The end result was clear: a 49-46 decision on all three cards, as Edwards clearly won the first four rounds – but he had to get through an incredibly rocky final minute.
UFC president Dana White marvelled at Diaz’s resilience after the main event, which saw Israel Adesanya successfully defend his middleweight title against Marvin Vettori.
“His leg was done in the first round, he went five rounds taking leg kicks, bleeding out of both sides of his head,” White said post-fight, per MMA Junkie. “One was squirting this way, one way squirting this way.
“He was still doing what the Diaz brothers do. He was working the whole fight to get into his head and try to make him make a mistake, and then he eventually caught him in the fifth round. He’s unbelievable. He’s gonna be asking us for a six-round fight next time.”
Edwards extended his unbeaten run in MMA to 10 fights but afterwards told commentator Joe Rogan that he was impressed by the iron toughness of the 36-year-old Diaz.
“Nate’s a veteran, you know. I hit him with everything but the kitchen sink!” said Edwards per the BBC. “So, fair play to Nate. I give my respect to him.
“I was caught by the back hand, straight through the guard, but it is what it is. I’m 29 years old, still learning, still growing, so I look forward to my title shot.”
Asked about how hard he was caught by Diaz, Edwards replied: “Hard enough to wobble me! I’ve been wobbled probably once in my career, so fair play to him, you know?
“It came right through the guard. I keep a wide guard and he came right through the middle with it, so fair play to Nate.”
Next up for Edwards looks set to be Colby Covington, as the British fighter aims for a title shot against the last man to defeat him: welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
As for the ‘Stockton Slugger’, we may not have seen the last of him in the Octagon after that ridiculous final-minute fightback.