MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at a five-round, non-title fight set for UFC 266 between legends Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler. This is a rematch after Diaz knocked Lawler out at UFC 47 way back in 2004. The event takes place on Saturday, September 25 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Keep in mind the fight will now take place in the middleweight (185lbs) division.
Nick Diaz (-110)
Diaz (26-9, 2 NC) is a true MMA legend. The 38-year-old American is in his second stint in the UFC, and he’s 1-2, 1 NC during this second stint in the promotion with a win over BJ Penn, a No Contest with Anderson Silva, and losses to Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit. Of course, he has plenty of experience in PRIDE, Strikeforce, and in the UFC in the years before then. One of the most popular MMA fighters of all time, Diaz has not fought since 2016 so it’s hard to say what he will look like after such a long layoff away. Before he left, Diaz was known for his high-volume boxing skills, his cardio, his durability, and his submission skills. It will be interesting to see how much he got better, or worse, during his time away from the cage, and this fight with Lawler feels like a very intriguing one.
Robbie Lawler (-110)
Lawler (28-15, 1 NC) is the former UFC welterweight champion. The 39-year-old American is in his second stint in the UFC, having gone 9-6 during that time with wins over the likes of Carlos Condit, Rory MacDonald, Johny Hendricks, Donald Cerrone, and Matt Brown. Lawler has been a professional MMA fighter since 2001 and in the 20 years since he has been one of the most fan-friendly welterweights on the planet while fighting for plenty of different promotions. Since returning to the UFC in 2013, Lawler became a champion in 2014, but he has really struggled over the past 5 years, going 1-5 in his last six fights, including his current four-fight losing skid. One of the most heavy-handed punchers of all time, Lawler has 20 career knockout wins, but none since 2015.
Fight Breakdown: This should be a fun fight for as long as it lasts, but it’s a tricky one to call given how long Diaz has been out of the cage for. With five years away, it’s difficult to say what he will look like at UFC 266. That being said, I do think the time away may have been a benefit for him as he didn’t take any damage in the Octagon during that time. Diaz has always had exceptional boxing skills and cardio, so if he looks anything like the fighter who he was before his long layoff, he should be able to hang with Lawler. As good as Lawler has been in the UFC, he has struggled lately and Diaz could be catching him at a good time. I view Diaz as a tough matchup for Lawler given he has an iron chin and it seems unlikely that Lawler will be able to finish him. But again, with Diaz being out of the game for so long, it’s hard to be super confident in him. However, I will take a shot on him to show up in good shape here, exhibiting his boxing skills, and outbox Lawler for a decision win.
Prediction: Nick Diaz