For the last six months, a Nick Diaz return has been swirling around the MMA rumor mill. The first name that people heard of as a potential opponent was Khamzat Chimaev, a prospect who has made a name for himself in the last year. The idea seemed to dematerialize quickly, then later shutdown by Diaz’s camp. After the Chimaev rumors disappeared, Diaz’s return seemed unlikely until about a week ago.
Last week Dana White gave an interview and mentioned that the UFC was working on a fight between Diaz and Robbie Lawler. Within days, the fight was confirmed by multiple outlets. For the first time last weekend at UFC Vegas 31, the UFC confirmed the fight, which is to be on the UFC 266 card scheduled for September 4th.
Here we are, a month until the nearly seven-year layoff of MMA legend Nick Diaz comes to an end. The fight will be contested at 170 pounds in the second-ever five around non-title co-main, the first being done last month by his brother Nate Diaz.
We are getting a rematch between two men who seventeen years ago gave us an all-time classic fight. It was Diaz’s third-ever professional fight, and at the time, he was touted as a great submission specialist, coming out of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu camp. Lawler Lawler being in a similar position, with it being his sixth pro MMA fight.
During the time, Lawler was a ferocious and terrifying striker. The fight was highly anticipated, and Lawler was the favorite. That night Diaz proved to everyone he was not just merely a Jiu-Jitsu specialist. Diaz went out and knocked out (in the second round) arguably the scariest man in the division at the time.
This fight would live on to be the benchmarker for a classic Diaz fight, filled with high pace striking and intense levels of trash talk. Both fighters would go on to have illustrious careers, holding belts and cementing themselves as two of the greatest welterweights to ever do it.
Now seventeen years after that brawl, we have a five-round rematch and the return of one of the most beloved mixed martial artists ever. This is truly a fight for the old heads of MMA and hopefully a beacon for appreciation for the new generation of fans.
What Will the Fight Look Like?
It will be absolutely fascinating to see Diaz come into a five-round fight after not having fought for almost seven years. A layoff such as this has not really happened since we saw Dominick Cruz come back against Henry Cejudo. Even though Diaz competes in triathlons and other high cardio competitions, how will that translate to an MMA fight?
On the other side of things, what will Robbie Lawler look like after a tough losing streak against top competition? What is Robbie to expect from a fighter who has not been in the cage in almost seven years and is close to nine years removed from fighting at this weight class? These are all difficult questions to try and predict the answer to going into the fight.
What we do know is these fighters are two of the best strikers in UFC history. Whatever the sportsbooks list the over/under’s for takedown attempts and strikes landed, you should probably take the under on takedowns, and the over on strikes landed. Whether it be an early stoppage or a multi-round war, expect to see a classic brawler-style fight.
All things considered, it is hard to say what this fight will look like as it pertains to who will come out on top. The opening odds have Diaz as the underdog at +210 and Lawler the favorite at -250, per SportsBetting.ag. While the odds are likely a consequence of Diaz’s layoff, this truly is as close to a pick-em fight as you can get.
What Does This Mean Longterm?
While this is certainly a fan favorite fight, the next step after this fight seems unclear regardless of the outcome. For argument’s sake, if Nick wins, does this mean another run at 170, or is he looking for selective fights? What about if Lawler wins? What does a win against Nick Diaz mean after four straight losses?
As well, what does this mean for superstar younger brother Nate Diaz who just competed last month at 170 pounds? The Diaz brothers have been on record stating they will never fight in the same weight division. Is this why Nate has been mentioning 185 pounds via Twitter lately? The path taken by all these individuals post-fight is equally as compelling as the story leading up to Nick’s return.
With all these post-fight logistics being very muddied as they commonly are with the Diaz brothers, the matchup of Diaz vs. Lawler is poised to be an absolute classic. Regardless of the outcome, MMA fans alike should be ecstatic we get to see two legends throw down at least one more time.
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