Nick Diaz will be making his long-awaited return to the UFC this weekend at UFC 266. He will be taking on Robbie Lawler in what was supposed to be a welterweight bout but was recently changed to a middleweight bout. The fight has also been bumped up to a five-round non-title fight. Nick Baldwin tweeted earlier this week that this fight will be taking place 209 months after Diaz and Lawler first fought in 2004.
Nick Diaz will be making his return this weekend after a six-year layoff that stemmed from his marijuana suspension. Diaz is winless in MMA since his decision victory over BJ Penn at UFC 137 in 2011. Diaz has a professional MMA record of 26-10-2 with 13 of those 26 wins being knockouts. He also adds eight submission wins to that total and he has never been submitted in his professional career. Eight of his ten losses are decision losses and his only two TKO losses were against KJ Noons and Jeremy Jackson. Diaz has fought for the UFC multiple times in his career, racking up a 7-6-1 record with the company.
Nick Diaz is a 3rd-degree black belt in BJJ under Cesar Gracie. He has won various BJJ tournaments in his career. Including a Gold medal at the US Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open in 2004, a first-place medal in the brown belt Pan-American Championship in 2005, and a third-place medal in the open division that same year. Diaz has stayed very active since his last fight. Nick and his brother Nate Diaz compete in triathlons all the time in their home state of California. Both men have always been very committed to a good diet and having good cardio. If we know one thing for certain, it should be that Nick Diaz will be coming into this fight with the same or better cardio than he had when he left.
Robbie Lawler will be coming into this fight on a four-fight losing streak. His last win was a decision victory over Donald Cerrone at UFC 214 in 2017. He has a professional MMA record of 28-15-1 with 20 of those 28 wins being knockouts. Lawler has great takedown defense but he is 1-5 when the fight ends in submission. Like Diaz, Lawler has fought for the UFC on multiple occasions in his career. Racking up a 13-9 overall record in the company. He won the UFC welterweight title in 2014 with his split decision win over Johny Hendricks. He then lost the title three fights later to Tyron Woodley.
In his long professional career, Lawler has won middleweight titles with Superbrawl, ICON Sport, and Elite Xtreme Combat. Lawler won UFC fighter of the year in both 2014 and 2015. In those same years, he also won fight of the year for his fights with Johnny Hendricks and Rory Macdonald. Funny enough, Nick Diaz was Lawler’s last opponent at welterweight before he moved to middleweight in 2004 and he will now be Lawler’s first middleweight fight in the last eight years.
This matchup was made in heaven in 2004 and not much has changed since then as far as fighting styles goes. Robbie Lawler is still a power puncher with a crazy amount of explosiveness. How Diaz will look is uncertain since time has shown that sometimes fighters take long layoffs and come back completely different and sometimes they come back exactly the same. One thing is for sure and that is if Diaz still has crisp boxing and good cardio we are going to see an all-out war. Whoever wins this fight lines themselves up for big, popular fights in the future.
UFC 266 Fight Card
Main Card (ESPN+ / PPV)
- Alexander Volkanovski (C) vs. Brian Ortega
- Valentina Shevchenko (C) vs. Lauren Murphy
- Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler
- Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
- Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo
Preliminary Card (ESPNews / ESPN+)
- Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili
- Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast
- Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus
- Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos
Early Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
- Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner
- Cody Brundage vs. Nick Maximov
- Matthew Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano Jr.
- Jonathan Pearce vs. Omar Morales
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