After getting the better of a bloodied Nate Diaz for the previous four rounds, Leon Edwards suddenly found himself rocked and in danger of being finished in the final five minutes, but ultimately survived to secure a unanimous decision victory.
Diaz misses on a leg kick attempt as he moves to the outside early. Edwards sticking to the center of the Octagon and looking to close down his opponent.
Diaz with a couple of fakes and Edwards tries for a left hand. Diaz feigning as if he’s turning his back and then bursts forward with a flurry, but Edwards is looking to counter.
Calf kick from Edwards almost knocks Diaz off-balance. He lands it again. Diaz fires out a right hand. Exchange of punches.
Leg kick for Diaz. He lands one to the inside of the leg too. Diaz tries to maintain distance with a push kick. Left hand from Edwards just grazes the target. Edwards with a leg kick after avoiding one from Diaz.
Right hook from Diaz and then tries for a couple more hooks behind it. Edwards clinches up and presses Diaz into the cage.
Edwards working a takedown and shunts around to the back immediately on the mat. Edwards trying to get his hooks in. Diaz tries to scramble, but Edwards stays on him as Diaz gets to his knees turtled up.
Diaz again trying to scramble and ends up on his back with Edwards landing a left hand in the process. Diaz able to get space to go back to his feet, but there’s not enough time left for them to strike.
Calf kick for Edwards. Diaz tries to flurry but gets caught by a glancing counter punch. Edwards just short on a big left hand.
Front kick to the body from Edwards. Diaz puts his hands on his knees, playing around, then lands a right hand, but also gets caught with one at the same time.
Another calf kick from Edwards. Right hand for Diaz. Edwards with a solid leg kick. Exchange of punches and then Edwards gets into the clinch against the cage.
Nice trip takedown from Edwards and is in half-guard. Diaz thinking about a leg lock. Edwards drops down and scrambles to escape that, then they back get back upright.
Hard leg kick from Edwards and Diaz definitely felt that one. Diaz puts his hands on his knees, playing again, and Edwards aims a kick at his rear-end.
Edwards with a good punch. Diaz lands as they both let their hands go. Diaz lunges into another punch that misses and then they clinch up.
Final seconds of the round and they separate, with Edwards trying to land a spinning elbow.
Edwards lands an elbow as they are in the clinch. Edwards connects and Diaz seems to acknowledge that one. Another calf kick for Edwards.
Diaz able to get into the clinch against the cage. Edwards able to break free. Diaz with a punch over the top that lands.
They clinch up again and Edwards presses Diaz into the cage. Short punches from Diaz. Edwards shunts around looking for his back and then opts to just take him down.
Edwards in Diaz’s half-guard now with over half the round remaining. Slicing elbow from Edwards draws blood and then he goes for it again.
Diaz able to get back up, but he’s got at least one bad cut. The ref stops the action momentarily as Diaz needs to adjust his cup.
Edwards looking for a glove touch on the restart, but Diaz punches his hand away.
Edwards able to get into the clinch again up against the cage and then works a takedown. Diaz tries or a leg lock, but Edwards is wise to it and then hops to his back.
Diaz manages to get back upright. Spinning elbow from Edwards lands, but Diaz shakes his head and marches forward with his face a crimson mask as the round ends.
A couple of missed punches from Diaz at close range. Body kick from Edwards. One-two from Diaz and then he raises his hands.
Another one-two for Diaz now. Hard calf kick from Edwards. Exchange of punches and Edwards blasts him with a big hook that Diaz acknowledges with a thumbs up.
Solid body kick for Edwards as Diaz is backing up casually. Front kick to the body from Diaz. Edwards kicks Diaz’s leg out from under him.
Diaz walks around the outside of the cage while not even looking at Edwards and gets caught by a leg kick. He continues to strut around anyway.
Edwards just missing on a big elbow attempt. calf kick from Edwards. Diaz with a series of straight punches and then darts into the clinch. Edwards attempts an elbow as they break apart.
Inside leg kick from Diaz, but Edwards responds with a leg kick of his own.
Right and a left from Diaz. Glancing hook from Edwards. Hard elbow from Edwards in close. Another solid punch lands for Edwards.
Pitter-patter punches from Diaz. Hard left hand for Edwards. Front kick to the body from Diaz, but misses with his follow-up punches.
Heavy hooks from Edwards. Now he sweeps out Diaz’s leg. Back on the feet Diaz takes the center of the Octagon. He lands a body punch.
Short punch from Diaz in close. He lands a left hand and then clinches up against the cage. Elbow strike from Diaz as he opts to move out of the clinch.
Hard left hand for Edwards. Now the calf kick. Edwards just misses on a right hand. Feeling jabs from Diaz. He lands a body punch, but Edwards lands a counter to the head.
Solid left for Diaz. Now an even better one. Surprisingly Diaz opts to clinch up after that, but really he needs a finish at this stage.
Light knees from Diaz in the clinch. They break free with Diaz landing a slap. Solid body kick from Edwards. Now one to the other side.
Diaz with a right hand and Edwards responds with a two-piece combo. Hard left hand from Edwards and then a couple of punches that also rattle Diaz.
However, Diaz then just keeps on coming regardless. Body punches from Edwards. Huge straight left from Diaz and Edwards is suddenly on wobbled legs.
Edwards still getting his bearings and surprisingly Diaz is being patient and gives him the finger.
Diaz lands a couple more punches and Edwards is still a bit rocked but surviving for now.
Edwards backing up around the outskirts of the Octagon and takes a glance at the clock, clearly in survival mode now.
Diaz stalking him with urgency now and starts landing again. Edwards just hanging in there and no more in the final seconds of the round, but does make it to the final horn.
So a big final round for Diaz, but unfortunately for him it was too little too late to turn around what had happened in the previous four, so Edwards wins by unanimous decision (49-46 x3).
The thrilling finish certainly put a whole new perspective on this fight as up until that point there had been more posturing than end-product from Diaz, while Edwards had been relatively comfortably cruising to victory.
With a single punch Diaz ensured his fan-favorite status will remain in place, although in hindsight he may well rue not having gone all out for the finish, while Edwards will have regrets at having shown a rare sign of weakness just as he’s closing in on title contention status.