It had been more than six years since Nick Diaz last set foot in the Octagon, and while he wasn’t able to make a triumphant return against Robbie Lawler on Saturday night, he did provide some entertainment for as long as the fight lasted.
Diaz traded punches with Lawler for two rounds at UFC 266, often showcasing his trademark volume, but he eventually ran out of gas in Round 3. That’s when Lawler landed a right hook that dropped Diaz to a knee before connecting with a left uppercut that sent the Cesar Gracie protege to his back. Moments later, Diaz confirmed to referee Jason Herzog that he didn’t want to continue, ending the bout 44 seconds into the third frame.
All told, Diaz outlanded Lawler by a 150-to-131 count in significant strikes, becoming just the 12th fighter in UFC history to land that many strikes in a loss.
“I’m glad I at least put on a show,” Diaz said during an interview with Daniel Cormier in the Octagon. “I knew I had it coming. Old Rob. I had a lot of stress coming into this one, especially being off a long time. I don’t have no excuses. I had a long time off and I knew I had it coming.”
Diaz and Lawler initially squared off at UFC 47 on April 2, 2004, with Diaz winning via second-round knockout. During pre-fight interviews, Diaz didn’t seem to understand why he was matched with Lawler again, and he reiterated that sentiment in the immediate aftermath of the bout.
“I don’t know how this fight got set up,” Diaz said. “I had a whole switch up in my management setup, the way that the fight got set up. It was just a bum rap.
“But no excuses, I had it coming, he was in great shape. I knew I was leaking [blood] here so I didn’t want to make too much of a mess. I’m glad to be back. I’m glad to put on a show.”
A former Strikeforce and World Extreme Cagefighting champion, Diaz hasn’t won a mixed martial arts bout since he outpointed B.J. Penn at UFC 137 in October 2011. The Stockton, Calif., native didn’t comment further on his Octagon return because he did not attend the UFC 266 post-fight press conference.
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