Saturday, May 21, 2022

Nate Diaz Almost Ran Out Of Time At UFC 263

Scene: Stockton, California

Nate Diaz Fan #1 was busy at a wedding Saturday night while Fan #2 witnessed UFC 263 live. The moment Fan #1 is free, he calls up his buddy to get the intel on what went down inside the Gila River Arena. Their conversation goes a little something like this…

Fan #1: Hey, bro, what happened?! Did Nate win??

Fan #2: Naw, dawg, he ran out of time again!

Fan #1: Aw, shit, what happened??

Fan #2: He was losing, but he had Edwards rocked bad in the 5th! He almost finished him! If he had one more round, he would have won! He didn’t really lose. He just ran out of time!

Fan #1: Aw, damn, man! How much time was left when he rocked him?

Fan #2: A minute.

Fan #1: Damn! So what happened? Did Edwards hug him up till time ran out?

Fan #2: Nah.

Fan #1: Oh, Edwards must have poked him in the eye then, huh? Dude is such a cheater! So what, he poked Nate in the eye or something then took the time to shake it off, huh?

Fan #2: Nah, there wasn’t any foul or anything like that.

Fan #1: Wait, so then what happened right after Nate rocked him??

Fan #2: Nate pointed at Edwards and taunted him.

Fan #1:…

Cut

It has often been said that a Diaz brother never really loses. They just run out of time. Nate Diaz was maybe only a couple of punches away from his UFC 263 fight against Leon Edwards possibly being the truest, most credible that expression has ever been.

When the “out of time” statement is made, the implication is that even when a Diaz brother loses, it wasn’t because they weren’t the better man; they just didn’t have enough time to finish settling who was the badder man. Based on the information on paper, if a Nate Diaz fan learns that Diaz had an opponent badly rocked with a minute left, they would no doubt pounce on that trope once again.

In fact, watching the 5th round play out the way it did, my instant reaction was to think, “Oh, wow. It’s actually true. He really did just run out of time.” But those thoughts quickly vanish when you watch the slow-motion replay and see just how much time Diaz wasted after badly hurting Edwards.

Now I’m certainly not the only person who has made this observation. In fact, Diaz’s failure to capitalize on his eleventh-hour opportunity may very well be the biggest talking point coming out of the fight. Honestly, though, when rewatching the end of the 5th round, it’s not as if Diaz wasted the entire final minute. He did remain in hot pursuit of Edwards and threw more big shots in an attempt to get the finish. It’s just the immediate five seconds after landing the big left that were squandered.

But a lot can happen in five seconds. A lovestruck teenage couple could share their first kiss; a kick-ass hiding spot can be selected in a game of hide-and-seek; you can set, shoot, and sink the game-tying free throw of a championship basketball game; and you definitely can finish a mixed martial arts fight.

Immediately after landing his big shot, Edwards could be seen backing up, clearly on spaghetti legs. Instead of going for the kill, in the five seconds that followed, Diaz would point at Edwards in a taunting fashion and calmly walk forward and feint before finally continuing his attack.

For someone who is such a battle-tested veteran of the game, it was an inexplicably poor exercise in fight IQ that rendered any time-related excuse for the loss to be null and void. Essentially, Nate Diaz was only five seconds away from truly “running out of time.”

Had Diaz been unrelenting immediately after hurting Edwards, that would have given more validity to the veteran running out of time as opposed to exercising poor clock management in the most pivotal moment of the fight.

In reality, Diaz had more than enough time based on how visibly hurt Edwards was. If he lands 1-2 big strikes immediately behind the initial damaging blow, that could have spelled the end of the bout and would have potentially ranked up there as the #1 comeback in the Stockton bad boy’s legendary career. So no, Nate Diaz did not run out of time at UFC 263. Five seconds was all the time in the world to kill instead of allowing his chances at an iconic comeback to be killed.  

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