Edwards faced Nate Diaz at the pay-per-view in what was the UFC’s first non-main event and non-title five-round fight. Despite two championship rematches coming after it, the bout was perhaps the most anticipated on the entire card.
“Rocky” largely dominated the fight and his 23 minutes of comfortable control was reflected on the judges’ scorecards. But a final minute rally from Diaz stole the headlines and put a damper on the Englishman’s victory.
In the aftermath of the five-round war, Dana White reiterated that despite the result, Colby Covington remains next in line for a shot at Kamaru Usman’s 170-pound belt. And now, former title challenger Gilbert Burns has claimed that Edwards didn’t do enough to leapfrog “Chaos.”
In an interview with SCMP MMA, the Brazilian suggested that the Jamaican-born welterweight needed a finish against Diaz in order to receive the next championship opportunity.
“And I think Leon Edwards lost the shot just because he didn’t get a finish. He wasn’t hungry. Not even criticizing the guy. I think he fought very good. He’s a very smart fighter. But he’s not a finisher. If you go all day and sometimes just, as they say, bite the mouthpiece, and go forward, and finish the fight, sometimes you’re gonna get the shot.
“But if you just kinda point-fight, winning the fight, that’s good for you. You make more money, you’re changing contracts, you’re getting better, getting famous. But at the end of the day, the real fans, the real guys, the crazy guy with the ‘Just Bleed,’ those are the real fans. And they want to see violence. They want to see a finish. They go crazy when someone does a crazy knockout. And I just think he lost the shot (with) that performance.”
Burns added that Edwards had to replicate or improve on the performances of other contenders who’ve faced Diaz, something the 29-year-old failed to do in the eyes of “Durinho.”
“Clearly, he beat Nate Diaz at least four rounds easily, but sometimes that’s not enough to win the fights. He won the fight. He did. But I think Masvidal did it way better, and a lot of guys did it way better. Ben Henderson did it way better. RDA did it way better. And I can count a lot of guys that beat Nate and beat (him) a lot better than Leon Edwards did: way more convincing, way more fun to watch. I think he missed a very good opportunity. If I saw (Nate Diaz) in front of me and I beat him up four rounds….last round, it’s gonna be a real fight.”
Burns himself earned a title shot after a knockout win over Demian Maia and a dominant and destructive display against former champ Tyron Woodley.
After falling short against “The Nigerian Nightmare,” Burns will look to return to contention with a victory over Stephen Thompson at UFC 264 next month.
Do you agree with Burns’ comments on Edwards’ UFC 263 performance?