The highly anticipated return of Nick Diaz finally happened tonight at UFC 266, but this time, in a rematch against Robbie Lawler seventeen years in the making, it was Lawler who came out on top.
Diaz immediately came in with a spinning kick to the head that missed its mark. Lawler clinched up and threw a knee, then driving Diaz back against the fence. Lawler was relentless, throwing body and head shots and forcing Diaz to focus on defense. Diaz finally began to fire back, landing body shots on his opponent while Lawler continued to throw high-volume shots. The brawl continued, both fighters’ punches hitting their marks. Lawler landed a calf-kick, and Diaz countered with a knee and a flurry of punches. Though Lawler wasn’t backing down, Diaz wasn’t letting him achieve the dominance that was seen in the first minute of the fight, slowing him down with body shots and landing long boxing combos even as Lawler had him backed up against the fence. The back-and-forth continued until the end of round one, both fighters looking strong til the bell.
The fighters had an explosive start, Lawler wasting no time in driving Diaz backward. Diaz fought back, but backed off after Lawler landed a kick to the body. After Diaz got some breathing room, he came back with more punches, throwing a knee in for good measure before Lawler aimed for his liver again with another body kick. Both athletes continued to fire back and forth, but Lawler was unquestionably the one pushing forward, forcing Diaz to either find himself stuck against the fence or try to find an opening to escape.
Diaz opened round three with shots to the body of Lawler, who fired back with a barrage of punches to Diaz’s body and head while Diaz was backed against the cage. A few more combos were exchanged, and then, as Diaz stepped forward, Lawler connected with a right hook that led Diaz to drop to a knee and cover his face. Diaz sat down in what appeared to be open guard, but then didn’t stand back up when beckoned to his feet by the referee. The fight ended then and there, 44 seconds into the third round.
Robbie Lawler was declared the winner by TKO.