Leon Edwards exclusive: 'Rocky' believes he is better than Nate Diaz in every facet of MMA

Leon Edwards

Leon Edwards has said he is going to showcase his skills when he fights Nate Diaz at UFC 263 at the Gila River Arena in Arizona on Saturday night, live on BT Sport. 

Fighting out of Birmingham, Edwards (18-3, 1 NC) faces the experienced American as he looks to strengthen his case for a title shot as he targets a rematch with Kamaru Usman in 2021. 

Diaz (20-12), of Stockton, California, returns to the Octagon for the first time since losing to Jorge Masvidal in November 2019, having previously beaten the likes of Anthony Pettis and Conor McGregor - but 'Rocky' insists he can comfortably handle the dangerous 36-year-old in style.   

While he admits he holds Diaz in high regard, Edwards believes he truly has what it takes to shock the world. 

"I think everyone knows Nate, you know, he's a tough, durable opponent," Edwards said in an exclusive interview with GIVEMESPORT. "He's been like that since the start of his career,  you know, it's like I said, durable, good boxing, good jujitsu.

"But I just feel this is the new school of MMA, I'm able to do it all; I can strike, I've got great jiu-jitsu, great wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, so I'll be ready for wherever the fight goes.

"This is a guy that obviously I grew up watching, you know, I watched him and his brother Nick [Diaz] and now we've got me and my brother [Fabian] doing it as well.

"It's going to be an interesting fight, it's going to be a great fight and I think this is the fight that will put me where I belong, you know, this is my ninth win in a row, and I cannot wait for it.

"If I wanted to, like I said, put him away, hurt him, you know, well, I truly believe I'm better anywhere the fight goes - on the feet, in grappling situations and on the ground. I'm ready to do whatever it takes to win."

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Edwards, who is originally from Kingston, Jamaica, but based out of Birmingham in England, trains with Fabian and Jake Hadley at Team Fearless under brothers Kaish and Kamby Banger.

The gym has forged a strong camaraderie with its neighbours Renegade MMA and 1st Reaction MMA as they all strive together to achieve their common goal.  

"Like I said, there's no ego here, you know, all gyms mix together, all come together for the bigger cause to create more champions coming out of Birmingham," said the 29-year-old.

"In the UK, I think the MMA scene is now in Birmingham, I think back in the day it was in London at London Shootfighters and Dan Hardy with his gym in Nottingham.

"I think now it's in Birmingham, and to have like I said, no egos, anyone can go to each of the gyms and train and we will bring all our coaches together to create ideas. 

"I think we're showing it in our results and what we are achieving, and I cannot wait to go out there, win the world title, bring the belt back to Birmingham to show the other guys that, 'Look, we can achieve everything if we stick together and work hard, we can achieve our goals.'"

Leon Edwards

With the support of the UFC, Edwards, Jimi Manuwa and Darren Till are the driving force behind a new initiative aimed at tackling the effects of knife crime in the hopes of leaving a positive lasting impression on young people, something he feels immensely proud to be a part of. 

"It means everything to me," he added. "Obviously I know where a lot of these kids are coming from, I've been there, I've done it, so this is a passion of mine.

"I've lost many friends to knife violence from either doing the act or being stabbed, you know, so if I can save one kid, why wouldn't I? 

"When Jimi [Manuwa] came to me with the idea, I was up for it straight away, and thought, 'Okay, let's get Darren Till involved as well because he was involved in a knife attack as well'.

"It's a passion of mine, I cannot wait for it to kick off in June, and I'm looking forward to helping these kids that grew up where I grew up."

Read more: UFC launches initiative with youth charity OnSide to get youngsters off the streets

UFC 263 takes place Saturday night. The early prelims will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass, while the preliminary card and main card will be broadcast live on BT Sport.

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