Leon Edwards admits he got ‘lazy’ and ‘complacent’ in final round against Nate Diaz

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Leon Edwards was just minutes away from the highest profile win of his career at UFC 263 but then suddenly he almost had it all taken away from him.

After bloodying and battering Nate Diaz for the better part of four rounds, the 29-year-old British welterweight was cruising through the final five minute session when he got absolutely blasted with a straight left punch that put him in serious trouble.

As Edwards stumbled across the octagon like a baby deer on roller skates, he was holding on and trying to avoid further damage in order to make it to the final horn. For a split second it appeared Diaz would pull off one of the most incredible comebacks in the history of the sport but Edwards was able to steady himself and stay composed until the fight came to an end.

Looking back during the UFC 263 post-fight press conference, Edwards admits he made a huge mental error against Diaz and he nearly paid for it.

“It was a decent performance,” Edwards said about the fight. “I could have let my hands go a little bit more. The last round, I got complacent. You pay the price. No matter what though, I was not going down no matter what. I had the will to win and I wasn’t going to let Nate take that away from me.

“Like I said, my will to win is strong. I know what I’ve come from, I know what I’ve been through. I was not going out cause of a shot. It is what it is. He caught me with a nice shot. I got lazy. Paid the price and that’s it.”

As soon as Diaz connected with the punch, Edwards was standing on rubber legs as the former lightweight title contender surged forward with a barrage of shots trying to put him away.

Edwards was able to clinch and hold on long enough to get his feet back under him but he knows that’s not a mistake he can ever afford to make again.

“I was rocked,” Edwards said. “I wasn’t rocked [enough] to go down to my knees and get ground and pounded out but I felt that. I didn’t know what he hit me with until after the fight. It was a clean shot.

“Like I said, I got complacent. I thought there’s only a minute and a half left, let’s just go with the flow of the fight and I paid the price. That is a lesson. I’m still learning. I’m 29 years old and I’m still growing.”

Because Edwards had controlled the majority of the action up to that moment, he didn’t have to worry about suddenly losing a decision but he was definitely impressed with Diaz throughout the fight and his respect only grew after sharing the cage with him for 25 minutes.

“I think Nate’s Nate, that’s what I like about him,” Edwards said. “He is who he is, he won’t change for nobody and especially talking sh*t. Even when I was hitting him, I was getting him with some good shots and [he said] ‘what are you doing? You ain’t doing nothing!’ I’m like, bro, I’m beating you up here. It is what it is.

“Good fight, I enjoyed it. It’s been a long, long two years and I was happy to come back and compete against a guy like Nate. I respect him, especially after that fight. Knowing how much he can take and keep going forward and keep talking sh*t.”

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