One of the biggest starts in UFC history, Nate Diaz, has been booked for his Octagon return at UFC 262 in Houston on May 15. The Stockton (CA.) native will face Leon Edwards in a five-round co-main event ahead of the Michael Chandler-Charles Oliveira headliner for the UFC’s vacant lightweight strap.
Wait, a five-round co-main event that doesn’t have a belt at stake? Indeed. And yes, it’ll be the first in the history of the promotion.
You see, when you “move the needle” like Nate does, special exceptions can be made when you grace the Octagon.
ESPN was the first to report this news on Tuesday night. Diaz chimed in with his own announcement via Twitter.
Edwards, the welterweight division’s third-ranked contender, had won eight fights in a row going into his main-event bout against Belal Muhammad earlier this month. The fight was ruled a no-contest after an accidental eye poke from Edwards left Muhammad unable to continue.
BetOnline opened the 29-year-old Edwards (18-3-0-1 MMA, 10-2-0-1 UFC) as a -350 favorite early this morning. However, the offshore website had moved ‘Rocky’ to a -400 ‘chalk,’ leaving Diaz as a +330 underdog.
FanDuel opened Edwards as a -275 favorite early this morning, but it had adjusted Edwards to a -310 favorite. Diaz has +245 odds.
The 35-year-old Diaz (20-12 MMA, 15-10 UFC) is 4-4 in the 170-pound loop with wins over Conor McGregor, Anthony Pettis, Rory Markham and Marcus Davis. The two more recent welterweight losses were somewhat controversial, though, with McGregor beating Diaz in the rematch via majority decision in a back-and-forth bloodbath.
Although Jorge Masvidal was clearly ahead on the judges’ scorecards after three rounds vs. Diaz in the UFC 244 main event at MSG in NYC, the fight was far from over. However, the doctor stopped the fight before Round 4 due to a cut over Diaz’s eye.
During Diaz’s storied career, he owns other notable scalps over Gray Maynard, Michael Johnson, Jim Miller, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, Takanori Gomi, Melvin Guillard and Josh Neer.
Three of his 10 defeats have come over former UFC champions in Benson Henderson, Rafael dos Anjos and McGregor. He has beaten former UFC champs in McGregor and Pettis, in addition to Gomi, the former PRIDE lightweight champ.
Most books have Oliveira installed as a favorite in the -130 to -145 range, while Chandler is around +110 to +120 at most spots.
Two other notable fights on the UFC 162 card include a lightweight showdown pitting Beniel Dariush (-160) vs. Tony Ferguson (+140) and a middleweight clash between Jack Hermansson (-185) and Edmen Shahbazyan (+150), who is off his first career loss to Derek Brunson.