Nick Diaz suffered a third round TKO loss when he failed to get off a Robbie Lawler right hook in his first fight in 2,429 days as part of the UFC 266 main card.
Diaz, a pioneer in mixed martial arts and one of its most popular fighters, hadn’t fought in more than six years, mostly due to a suspension he received after testing positive for marijuana traces in 2015.
During fight week, Diaz did not look thrilled about his return to the Octagon, speaking frankly about his love / hate relationship with mixed martial arts. But he thrilled fans at the T-Mobile Arena from his way into the cage for a rematch with Lawler from their fight in 2004, a Diaz victory by KO.
Although he had his moments on his feet with his boxing, Diaz couldn’t take it anymore when Lawler landed a right hook that forced him to go to one knee, from which he did not get up, forcing the referee to stop the fight 44 seconds into the third round. .
“That’s what I was hoping for,” Lawler said in his post-fight interview. “I was hoping that he would pick up the pace and try to break me. And I didn’t let him.”
Originally scheduled for welterweight, this fight took place at middleweight, a change that took place during fight week at Diaz’s request, and was scheduled for five rounds, which is unusual for non-title and non-title bouts. main events.
“At least I put on a show,” Diaz said. “I knew what to expect. There was a lot of stress going into this match.”
After the fight, Diaz had a towel to his nose, which was bleeding.
“I knew it was leaking [sangre]”Diaz said.” I didn’t want to leave too much of a mess.
The first two rounds were very competitive. Diaz hit a ton of combinations in the first round. Lawler responded with the hardest punches in the second and third rounds. Diaz actually hit more significant strikes, 150-131, according to UFC Stats. Diaz is only the 12th fighter in UFC history to land 150 significant punches in a loss, and all other fights were longer than this one against Lawler, according to research from ESPN Stats & Information.
“I’ve always had respect for Diaz,” Lawler said. “He brings it in every damn time he gets in the ring … He came into battle and put on an incredible show.”
Lawler (29-15, 1 NC) is a former UFC welterweight champion. He won the 170-pound title by defeating Johny Hendricks in 2014 and defended it twice in instant classics against Rory MacDonald and Condit. The 39-year-old fighter stopped a streak of four losses, all against very high-level competition.
Diaz (26-10, 2 NC) is the older brother of UFC star Nate Diaz. He is a former Strikeforce welterweight champion and was involved in great fights in the UFC against BJ Penn, Carlos Condit, Georges St-Pierre, and Anderson Silva from 2011 to 2015.