An MMA icon with a storied history is making his long-awaited return to the UFC later this month.
There are few fighters in this sport that have a cult following like Nick Diaz. Both Nick and his younger brother, Nate Diaz, have captured the love and respect from countless MMA fans for several reasons, including their high-pressure fighting style, grittiness and attitude.
The Diaz brothers are viewed by many to be “as real as it gets” while fighting in a promotion that uses the same slogan.
And on Saturday, Nick Diaz will step inside the Octagon for the first time in over six years when he fights former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler during the main card of UFC 266, which takes place September 25, 2021, at 10 p.m. Eastern time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
The fight is scheduled for five, five-minute rounds. It is the promotion’s second time scheduling a non-title, non-main event bout for five frames, the first time being Nate’s fight with Leon Edwards at UFC 263 in June 2021.
It’s also a rematch over 15 years in the making. Nick Diaz and “Ruthless” fought in April 2004 at UFC 47, years before the two hit their primes. Diaz emphatically knocked out Lawler, dropping Ruthless with a right hand that sent the fighter face-first into the canvas. Watch their original scrap below:
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Diaz Is Confident He’ll Get the Job Done Against Lawler & Says He’s More More ‘Dangerous’ Than Their Last Fight
The UFC recently shared a quick highlight reel of Diaz’s former fights, as well as him preparing for his match with Lawler.
“I’m actually way more of a dangerous fighter than I was when I fought Robbie Lawler the first time,” Diaz said in the video. “I’m going to be really unstoppable having made the right decisions.”
“I’m going to beat Robbie again,” Diaz continued.
Speaking of being more “dangerous” than their 2004 fight, Lawler has had his own Hall of Fame career since then. Ruthless boasts a professional MMA record of 28-15 with 20 wins coming way by KO/TKO. A decade after his fight with Diaz, Lawler captured UFC welterweight gold by defeating Johny Hendricks via split decision at UFC 181 in December 2014.
He’s been a part of two of the greatest 170-pound championship wars in UFC history, defeating Rory MacDonald by fifth-round TKO in July 2015 at UFC 189 and Carlos Condit via split decision at UFC 195 in January 2016. Since losing his belt to Tyron Woodley during his third title defense, Lawler’s gone 1-4.
He is currently on a four-fight losing streak, dropping his last contest to Neil Magny in August 2020 during UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic.
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Diaz Blazed to an 11-Fight Win Streak & Earned the First Strikeforce 170-Pound Belt
Diaz, who was the reigning Strikeforce welterweight champion before re-signing with the UFC in 2011, has a professional record of 26-9 with two no contests. His record includes 13 wins by KO/TKO and eight by submission.
He hasn’t tasted victory as an MMA fighter since defeating former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion BJ Penn by unanimous decision at UFC 137 in October 2011. Diaz’s win streak was extended to 11, setting himself up for three big fights before heading into his hiatus.
Before his fight with Penn, Diaz was one of the biggest faces of the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion. He made his debut in the promotion in April 2009 on a three-fight win streak when he defeated Frank Shamrock by second-round TKO. After submitting Scott Smith later that year, Diaz found himself fighting for the inaugural Strikeforce 170-pound strap against Marius Zaromskis. He defeated the Lithuanian by first-round TKO.
After that fight, Diaz fought for DREAM once, tapping out Hayato Sakurai with an armbar before returning to Strikeforce to defend his championship. Diaz went on to defend his 170-pound belt three times, which was capped off by one of the most entertaining one-round wars of all time.
In his first defense, Diaz toppled KJ Noons by unanimous decision in October 2010 before submitting the popular Brazilian known as “Cyborg,” Evangelista Santos, securing his strap for the second time.
To protect his belt for the third time, Diaz engaged in what many consider to be one of the wildest fights ever, battling Paul Daley in April 2011. The fight lasted less than one round but it featured both fighters rocking and wobbling each other several times before Diaz put the Brit away three seconds before the bell.
Re-live the iconic fight below:
Diaz’s 11-Fight Win Streak Was Snapped By Carlos Condit via Controversial Decision for the UFC Interim Welterweight Belt
Diaz’s battle with “Semtex” Daley was his last fight in Strikeforce, signing with the UFC and fighting BJ Penn later in 2011.
Riding his 11-fight win streak, Diaz competed for the interim welterweight belt next against Carlos Condit in February 2012 at UFC 143. The fight was contested nearly entirely on the feet in what ended up being a less-than-exciting chess match.
As the two fighters stood in the middle of the Octagon and announcer Bruce Buffer read the judges’ scorecards, Diaz, along with many fans, were convinced he had done enough to have UFC gold wrapped around his waist.
That didn’t happen, however, as Condit was determined the victor by unanimous decision (48–47, 49–46, 49–46), a decision that is disputed by Diaz’s fans to this day.
Diaz Fought 2 MMA GOATs Next, Georges St-Pierre & Anderson Silva
Because of how the Condit fight went and the ambiguity behind the scoring, Diaz’s stock didn’t drop far after the loss. For his next fight, he received a title shot against Georges St-Pierre, who had just unified the welterweight belt against Condit.
Diaz and “GSP” met in the middle of the Octagon at UFC 158 in March 2013 and although Diaz had some moments, St-Pierre earned a convincing win, sweeping the judges’ scorecards 50-45 across the board.
Nearly two years later, Diaz fought in what was his last MMA bout up to this point, taking on former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 183 in January 2015. The 185-pound fight was bizarre, to say the least, with very little action and unorthodox taunts, including Diaz laying down in the middle of the Octagon during the first round.
The contest was originally ruled a unanimous decision for “The Spider,” however after both fighters failed drug tests, Silva for performance enhancers and Diaz for marijuana, the fight was overturned to a no contest.
Diaz was originally hit with a five-year suspension, however it was reduced to 18 months and the fighter appealed the decision. He also had to pay a $100,000 fine. Interestingly, although Diaz succeeded at lowering his ban and fine, it’s been more than five years since the sentencing and he still hasn’t fought.
But that will all change on September 25 when Diaz makes his return, planning to build on his Hall of Fame legacy.